Mahoning prosecutors oppose release from prison for 3 inmates

Staff report

YOUNGSTOWN — Mahoning County Prosecutor Gina DeGenova has filed objections to several inmates being released on parole in March and April. Her office submitted letters opposing release from prison for Leslie M. Hickson, 50; Paul Dickerson, 62; and Derry Johnson, 60.

Ralph Rivera, chief of the criminal division of the prosecutor’s office, filed the objections to the Ohio Parole Board in all three cases.

Hickson, who has been in prison since Nov. 26, 2008, was sentenced for several violent felonies from two Mahoning County cases.

In a 1991 case, he pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated burglary and one count of robbery for walking into the Youngstown YWCA and taking cash from behind a counter. A maintenance man fought with Hickson and tried to stop him from taking the money. Hickson managed to break free and fled the building, according to the prosecutor’s office. The worker identified Hickson from a photo lineup.

In another 1991 case, Hickson pleaded guilty to two counts of rape, one count of aggravated burglary and one count of aggravated robbery, all with prior-conviction specifications. In this matter, Hickson raped and burglarized a woman, 85, living in a nursing home.

Hickson was paroled in the two cases. But soon after his release, he was convicted of several felonies in Hamilton County in April 2007 and November 2008, including burglary, breaking and entering, receiving stolen property and forgery and was returned to prison in November 2008, according to the Mahoning County Prosecutor’s office.

Rivera recently filed objections to Hickson’s release, saying he continues to be a danger to society. Since Hickson’s return to prison in November 2008, he has been an “ongoing disciplinary problem, logging 45 rules infractions from December 2008 through November, 2019,” according to prosecutors.

His prison history “provides no reassurance that he would follow the rules and laws if he was released into society, or that he would not harm anyone else,” prosecutors say.

“Hickson remains defiant and dangerous, much like he was in May 1991 when he burglarized and raped an 85-year-old woman in a nursing home, while on probation.”


Prosecutors also have filed a letter opposing release for Paul Dickerson, who is scheduled for a parole hearing in April and entered prison June 21, 1990.

Dickerson pleaded guilty to murder, a firearm specification and unlawful possession of a dangerous ordnance with a specification indicating he caused physical harm.

At about 4 a.m. Feb. 4, 1990, Gerald Bankhead (also known as Butch) and Dickerson got into an argument with Jerome Tellington inside Willie Mae’s Soul Kitchen on Youngstown’s South Side, according to prosecutors.

After that, Bankhead and Dickerson left, driving to Bankhead’s girlfriend’s house. There, Bankhead retrieved a sawed-off shotgun and the two drove back to Willie Mae’s SoulKitchen around 4;30 a.m. At some point, Bankhead handed Dickerson the shotgun. Bankhead and Dickerson went back inside Willie Mae’s and re-engaged Tellington. After a brief back-and-forth between Dickerson and Tellington, Dickerson pulled out the shotgun and shot Tellington, prosecutors say.

Rivera stated opposition to Dickerson’s release from prison because he “continues to be a danger to society, adding “Dickerson’s history in (prison) provides no reassurance he will follow laws of this state if he is released into society or that he would not harm anyone else.”

Dickerson’s behavior throughout his nearly 33 years of incarceration “continues to demonstrate a lack of respect for authority,” the prosecutor’s office states.

“During Dickerson’s incarceration, he has been cited for 35 infractions, including four citations for misbehavior in the last year alone. These four citations include physical and verbal alternations with other inmates and staff.


The final inmate is Derry L. Johnson, who was admitted to prison Nov. 7, 2008, and is scheduled for a parole hearing in April.

Johnson was convicted of several violent felonies in four separate cases, which included aggravated burglary, robbery, felonious assault, and kidnapping.

Following her initial convictions in two 1994 cases, she was released from prison on shock probation but returned to prison in 1996.

After two later releases from prison and parole violations, Johnson was returned to prison after she was convicted of new offenses in 2008.

The new offenses were in a 2007 case in which Johnson pleaded guilty and was convicted of kidnapping, aggravated burglary, robbery, felonious assault, and having a weapon while not allowed. Johnson also was convicted of firearm and repeat-violent-offender specifications. A judge sentenced her to 13 years in prison.

The prosecutor’s office is opposing Johnson’s release this time because “there is a substantial reason to believe Johnson will engage in further criminal conduct” or violate the terms of her parole.

Since her return to prison in November 2008, “she has been an ongoing disciplinary problem,” prosecutors state. “From December 2008 through August 2019, Johnson had 25 rules infractions, 19 of which occurred in the past 10 years.”

She appears to be “defiant and dangerous,” prosecutors stated in a press release. She had physical altercations with other inmates Jan. 22, 2019, Dec. 26, 2017, and June 18, 2016. “Accordingly, Johnson’s history in (prison) provides no assurances that she will follow the rules of her release and laws of this State if she is paroled again.”



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