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Murder charges against two Central State Hospital employees dropped in Otieno case

Multiple people wearing formal clothing stand in front of a group of microphones. One of them holds a photo of a person
Whittney Evans
VPM News File
The family of Irvo Otieno said he was "treated like a dog" after that watched surveillance video that shows Otieno's death.

Seven Henrico Sheriff’s deputies and one hospital employee still face second-degree murder charges.

Prosecutors in Dinwiddie County have withdrawn charges against two of the 10 people involved in the March death of psychiatric hospital patient Irvo Otieno.

During a Tuesday hearing, Dinwiddie County Commonwealth’s Attorney Ann Cabell Baskervill withdrew the second-degree murder charges she filed against two Central State Hospital employees: 27-year-old Sadarius D. Williams and 23-year-old Darian M. Blackwell.

Baskervill told VPM News in an email that the case against the remaining defendants is now stronger.

“I believe this places the prosecution of Irvo Otieno’s homicide in the strongest possible position upon my departure,” she wrote. “There is no doubt in my mind that the Commonwealth is now in a position to win when this ultimately goes to trial, and that truth, transparency, and justice will prevail.”

She said Williams and Blackwell’s involvement does not rise to the level of trial — and that’s made apparent in the footage of Otieno’s death.

“The decision to withdraw the charges was heavy but it was not difficult,” Baskervill wrote.

Mark Krudys, an attorney representing the Otieno family, declined to comment.

Baskervill also told VPM News she does not expect other charges will be withdrawn.

Seven Henrico County sheriff’s deputies and one hospital employee face second-degree murder charges in Otieno’s death.

Baskervill previously asked the court to try all 10 defendants together, but a judge in May granted requests for Williams and Blackwell to be tried apart from the others.

Tuesday is Baskervill’s last day as Dinwiddie County Commonwealth’s Attorney. She’ll be attending a master’s program in Paris — an offer she accepted just two days before Otieno’s death at Central State Hospital.

It is unclear who will take over the Otieno case.

Whittney Evans is VPM News’ features editor.