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Posted at 7:53 PM ET, 01/21/2011

Mother of slain student camps out

By Matt Zapotosky
Matt Zapotosky

The mother of a University of Maryland student slain as part of a botched robbery earlier this month in College Park set up a lounge chair, pulled up a cooler and camped out in front of Prince George's County police headquarters Friday in an effort to get police to retract statements that her son's killing was drug related.

Karen DeSha has been in a protracted dispute with police over the nature of her son's killing, arguing that 22-year-old Justin DeSha-Overcash was no drug dealer, but a bright double major in physics and astronomy. She said she sat outside police headquarters from about 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and made some progress in forcing a meeting with police officials set for Monday.

"They were very, very good to me today," Karen DeSha said. "They were concerned I was going to spend the night."

Police have said DeSha-Overcash was shot during a struggle with a would-be robber inside his home on 38th Avenue on Jan. 11. They have said the robbery appeared to be drug-related, and the robber was heard asking for DeSha-Overcash specifically. Police and law enforcement sources have said investigators seized marijuana-laced lollipops from the home, as well as scales and a quantity of the drug sufficient to indicate someone was distributing it.

DeSha said she would not care if her son was using marijuana, but in her frequent visits to the home, she never saw or smelled any of the drug. She said she believes police need to investigate further, and until then, they need to retract statements about her son being involved in drug activity.

"I just want his honor back," Karen DeSha said. "It's not about anything else."

By Matt Zapotosky  | January 21, 2011; 7:53 PM ET
Categories:  Matt Zapotosky, Pr. George's  
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Posted by: rickhurl | January 22, 2011 3:44 AM | Report abuse

She is in denial. Also, he could have been a bright college student AND a drug dealer. Remember the Georgetown kids arrested for dealing last year? Having a scale to measure pot isn't something that casual users do....

Posted by: darrren12000 | January 22, 2011 8:15 AM | Report abuse

No doubt half the lawyers in the DMV have read this piece and have contacted Ms. DeSha to begin a slander action against PG County.

Posted by: randysbailin | January 22, 2011 8:41 AM | Report abuse

"DeSha said she would not care if her son was using marijuana..."

Well there you go. Maybe if she had cared enough to talk to him about it, he might still be alive today. But now her baby dope dealer is gone and she doesn't want to be seen as the dead drug dealer's mom.

It's all about her. Very sad.

Posted by: nola_exile | January 22, 2011 8:47 AM | Report abuse

A lot of bright people do really dumb things(see: Clinton, Bill).
Were it my son I'd not want to believe he was involved in something that eventually caused his death either.
darren is correct...casual users of drugs don't have scales in their homes. Its a clear sign someone was dealing from that location.

Posted by: BigDaddy651 | January 22, 2011 10:12 AM | Report abuse

I think the issue here is that the minute the police tag a murder as "drug related" the urgency to find the killer(s) and the media attention paid to the case drops to zero.

The question should not be whether or not he was/is a drug dealer, smoked or did not smoke marijuana - but whether or not we care enough to find a killer - period.

I think it's crazy how we debate the facts of drugs/no drugs, dealer/no dealer, but don't ever talk about how 14+ people have lost their lives in PG County alone this month - and why don't we? Because as long as black men are killing black men over drugs no one cares.

Trust that if there were 14 killings in less than 30 days of any other race worth media attention (i.e., whites) even if drugs were a factor - the outcry, media attention, and police and government involvement would be tripled.

Open your eyes people. People are dying and NO ONE deserves their life to be taken.

Posted by: honeymarie | January 22, 2011 10:12 AM | Report abuse

drugs + PG County = imminent bad outcome (death or prison)

sounds like a brilliant kid who would have accomplished a lot if he had gotten through this bad-decision phase of life.

Posted by: nivreg | January 22, 2011 10:59 AM | Report abuse

The PGPD needs to be more responsible and quit telling the media the facts of the case. They will stop, when one of their own children is murdered and there is drug paraphernalia anywhere in the vicinity of the victim. And yes, just as many kids of police officers use drugs as kids of non-police.

Posted by: PGneedsaccountability | January 22, 2011 4:45 PM | Report abuse

Do the mother of the slain student honestly think that he would allow her to find drug paraphernalia in his possession. When police disclose details, it's for the purpose to inform the public. If the police had not disclosed the probable cause of the murder then the public would be apt to believe that it was random and they too could be in danger.

Posted by: hritewing | January 22, 2011 5:37 PM | Report abuse

When are people going to actually place the blame on those responsible for doing the shooting instead of the police?
It isn't the police department's fault people shoot each other. It's the shooter's fault!
Stop trying to make it a police issue...

Posted by: BigDaddy651 | January 22, 2011 7:57 PM | Report abuse

Denial is what most parents feel when this type of tragedy happens...the article just stated the murder APPEARED to be drug related since marijuana and a scale were found in HIS APARTMENT...No one from the police dept. ever said HE was dealing in drugs but........

Guess it really doesn't matter what the findings eventually are, she will never accept that her son might be dealing...

Posted by: pentagon40 | January 22, 2011 8:26 PM | Report abuse

I think the issue of the mother is that within one hour of being informed by the police that her son is dead there were media outlets reporting that the police said that this was drug related, he was a drug kingpin, and he got what he deserved for his chosen lifestyle. I read them myself. I know that the media does nothing remotely resembling journalism these days just repeating what is heard. Because of this just how much energy do you think went into finding the murderer within the first 48 hours. They had not told her any of this information. It all came from the media. What she was told was that they did not want the citizens of college park to become frightened.
I am a mom and I would fight as well. These are college students. Several roommates in the house. A whole lot of inconsistencies in this story. He did not have drug dealer money, or drug dealing time. College students smoke do a whole lot of other people.
The loss of an only child so young is devastating, but to have a picture painted of your child that is not grounded in hard facts, just a rush to judgement is wrong.
There has been another murder in PG county with a ski mask murderer. The citizens had better worry!

Posted by: Marylandmom4 | January 23, 2011 8:45 PM | Report abuse

maybe he bought a larger quantity of pot and broke it up (with his scale) and sold it to his friends at a slight markup to get free pot basaically. does that make him a "drug dealer".

well, anyway, one thing college kids should learn is that people will kill you for just a small bit of daddys money. i'm not judging his actions, but people will kill you over several hundred dollars (the cost of an ounce of pot)

I feel really badly for the kid and all you who think its right to criminalize marijuana can add this as one more AVOIDABLE murder caused by prohibition on marijuana.

Posted by: weblurker1 | January 23, 2011 11:20 PM | Report abuse

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