- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
A plea agreement with the state in exchange for firsthand testimony, coupled with his lesser level of involvement in an August 2012 beating, landed a former Waldorf resident an 18-month-sentence Thursday morning.
Andrew Lee Washam, now 23, had been present the night that a group of youths jumped a Washington Post deliveryman, who is in his 60s, and beat him three separate times to the point of blindness.
Two of the men — Derrick Jamar Thompson, 21, and Gregory Lee Boseman, 20 — have been sentenced, and a third, 23-year-old Jerrod Lamont Benson, was found guilty on all counts last month and will be sentenced July 3. Boseman pleaded guilty to first-degree assault and received a 25-year term, while Thompson stood trial and was acquitted of attempted first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit the same, but was found guilty on all other counts. Thompson received a 26½-year term.
As per the terms of his agreement with the state, Washam, who now resides out of state with a relative, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit first-degree assault and all other charges were dropped in exchange for testifying against the others involved.
No trial date has been set yet for the fifth person, 22-year-old Kenneth Dionel Brawner.
As he did at the sentencings for Boseman and Thompson, Charles County Assistant State’s Attorney Jeremy Widder read a letter the victim wrote to the court. In the letter, the victim spoke of how that night, Washam took his minivan and drove it away when the others began talking of running the victim over with it.
“I appreciate that he had the compassion to remove the van and save my life, but I’m disturbed that he didn’t call the police. ... That shows poor judgment,” the victim wrote. He went on in the letter to urge Washam to “use the brains God gave him” and make the most of his incarceration.
Widder acknowledged the complex circumstances surrounding Washam’s role in the beating.
“[Washam] was involved in a horrific, brutal, senseless assault. ... It’s one of the worst kinds of crimes we’ve seen in this county,” Widder said, conceding that the beating would have likely occurred even without Washam around, and that he likely couldn’t have stopped the other four from doing what they set out to do. However, Widder said, not long after the incident Washam was seen hanging out with Thompson and Benson before any arrests were made in the case.
“He has made every possible effort to atone for his crime,” Widder said. “He’s generally been as truthful as he can be.”
Widder also said Washam himself is a victim, as Boseman and Benson attacked him in jail after learning he’d agreed to testify against them.
“Benson choked him out to the point that he lost consciousness,” Widder said. “He was right to be afraid of these guys. I don’t think he should be treated the same as Benson, Boseman and Thompson. ... He’s not of the same character ... as the other guys.”
While he had no specific recommendation for the length of Washam’s sentence, Widder told Circuit Judge Robert C. Nalley he felt Washam must “go to jail for this.”
Washam’s defense attorney, John McKenna, acknowledged that Washam had certainly played some role in “a vicious attack” that he called “senseless and stupid.” However, like Widder, McKenna noted Washam’s reputation of cooperating well with the state after his arrest.
“Somewhere in his DNA, he’s different from them,” McKenna said of Washam. “Andrew made a choice ... a very good decision. He broke from his friends and betrayed them, frankly. ... It doesn’t relieve him of blame ... but he didn’t want [the victim] to be seriously injured or killed.”
Since he agreed to testify against the other four, McKenna said Washam’s decision has affected his entire family along with himself. Along with him moving out of state, McKenna said, his mother was forced to do the same because of threats they received, allegedly from the other defendants in the case.
“He burned every possible bridge he had with those fellows,” McKenna said. “I don’t know what else he could have done to equalize the harm he did.”
McKenna then asked Nalley to allow Washam to serve his sentence as house arrest.
“I made a big mistake,” Washam said. “That’s not how I was raised. I really just feel embarrassed about the whole situation.”
From the bench, Nalley asked several questions of Washam. The judge began by inquiring as to what Washam felt he could have done differently, and Washam responded by saying he could have tried to restrain the crew or make the beating stop.
“That would have showed at least that I care more,” Washam said.
Nalley then asked him to describe the jailhouse assault he suffered, which Washam said became “fuzzy” after they punched him in the head from behind.
Washam suffered nerve damage in his elbow, along with scarring on his forehead and also needed surgery on his right foot.
“My take is that when [the victim] was being attacked, you did something that was about all you could do,” Nalley said. “I would go so far as to characterize it as heroic. ... You may well have saved his life. I don’t like ... the world we live in, and I understand your reluctance to be discovered as someone who went to the police ... but there’s means of doing that without disclosing who you are. It seems to me there were ways of getting the word out ... pretty quickly without jeopardizing your own position. Not only did you not do that, you were still hanging out with these thugs days after. I guess I’m with Widder here in having mixed feelings about how to approach you.”
Nalley expressed hesitancy about house arrest, saying he hasn’t personally seen a system that’s “trustworthy or competent.”
For Washam’s safety, Nalley ordered his sentence be served at the Charles County jail instead of at a state prison where his safety could not be guaranteed. Washam will receive five years of unsupervised probation, along with a nine-year suspended sentence, upon his release. As he lives out of state and needs to get affairs in order, Washam was given a week to report to the jail.