Slain U-Md. student: Mother says police using drugs as scapegoat

The mother of a murdered University of Maryland student is outraged, claiming Prince George's County police are trying to deflect blame from her son's killing by labeling him a drug dealer.


Justin DeSha-Overcash
(Courtesy: Facebook)

Twenty-two-year-old Justin DeSha-Overcash was shot to death Tuesday morning in the home he rented in the 8800 block of 38th Street in Adelphi, just across University Boulevard from College Park. His murder was the 12th of the year in Prince George's County, which recorded 13 murders in the first 12 days of 2011.

Prince George's County police immediately implied that DeSha-Overcash's "lifetyle" had something to do with his death. Investigators said they recovered marijuana, a digital scale and drug-packaging materials from his home, indicating he was selling drugs.

But DeSha-Overcash's mother, Karen DeSha, said her son wasn't doing anything that should have gotten him killed. She accused police of labeling her son a drug dealer to deflect blame.

"They're trying to say he's something he's not," DeSha told ABC7's Ben Eisler in a phone interview. "I won't allow it. And if I have to do a news conference, get on TV, trust me, I will do it. I am my son's defense attorney."

DeSha-Overcash was her only son. At the age of seven, he told his parents he wanted to be a physicist, she recalled. Eleven years later the North Carolina native entered the University of Maryland, majoring in physics and astronomy.

"He was always very cheerful, very friendly," recalled Eric Mckenzie, the associate director of Maryland's astronomy program. "Just a very pleasant person to be around."

DeSha-Overcash's family fell on hard times during the recent economic downtown. His mother, who once held a job with a six-figure salary, went on food stamps. The scholarship student worked two jobs to put himself through school, his mother said, tutoring athletes in science and math, and helping students see the stars at the university's observatory. He had even been paying his mother's phone bill as she looked for work, she said.

Police have not announced any suspect in the killing.