EASTON — An Easton man charged with killing a 72-year-old man Thursday morning, June 6 is being held without bond on murder, assault and other charges.
Andre Lamont Price Jefferson, 31, is charged with killing John Joseph Cassidy of Easton in the locker room at the Easton Family YMCA on Peachblossom Road.
He is charged with first- and second-degree murder, first- and second-degree assault, armed robbery, robbery, reckless endangerment, wearing and carrying a concealed weapon, and attempted theft under $100.
Considering the “extreme violent nature of the allegations” against Jefferson and other factors, Talbot County District Court Judge Karen Ketterman has ordered Jefferson held without bond pending further proceedings in circuit court.
During a bail review hearing Monday afternoon June 10, an attorney for Jefferson waived his right to a preliminary hearing in district court, meaning the case will proceed to Talbot County Circuit Court.
“I’m also waiving jury trial too, your honor,” Jefferson said via a videocall from the Talbot County Detention Center. “That’s unnecessary.”
“That will be (discussed at) another date,” Ketterman replied.
A community candlelight vigil in honor of Cassidy and his family was held Sunday evening, June 9 on the front steps of the Easton Family YMCA. Cassidy’s wife Doralice Cassidy, daughter Lynette Cassidy of Baltimore and son John Daniel Cassidy of Portugal attended the vigil.
Originally from San Francisco, Cassidy moved to Hurlock in 1983 to join Perdue Farms affiliate InterTrade, trading animal and marine proteins and oils. Cassidy worked his way up in the Perdue Farms family, eventually becoming senior vice president for Perdue AgriBusiness.
“I never knew him, or saw him, to get mad or raise his voice. He was a steady thinker,” said David Nagel, owner of Nagel’s Farm Service, at the vigil. “He had such clarity and such vision. He could bring things together and make them happen.”
In charging papers in Jefferson’s case, Easton Police Officer J. Kellner said officers were called about 7:46 a.m. June 6 to the YMCA for a reported assault in the men’s locker room.
Officers found Cassidy on the floor of the men’s room, bleeding from apparent stab wounds.
Jefferson was on the floor of the lobby, suffering from an apparent medical emergency. He had blood on his clothes and officers recovered a knife with what appeared to be blood on it from his pants pocket, according to charging papers.
Jefferson was taken to the University of Maryland Shore Medical Center at Easton for treatment. While there, he made several spontaneous remarks in the presence of officers, saying that he had pulled a knife on the victim.
Cassidy also was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced deceased. He had multiple stab wounds to his body, including a slash to the throat and obvious defensive wounds to his hands, according to charging papers. Cassidy had $63.08 in cash in his front pocket.
Jefferson was told his rights and interviewed. He told police Cassidy has asked him for money and became aggressive when Jefferson said no, according to charging papers. Jefferson said he acted in self defense and “poked” Cassidy several times, later explaining that meant jabbing a knife into someone.
Jefferson also told police he needed money to move to his aunt’s house, according to charging papers. He said he went into Cassidy’s wallet to look for identification to assist him and said there was no cash in the wallet, only credit cards.
A witness told police he saw Jefferson, holding a knife, crouched over Cassidy, according to charging papers. Jefferson told the witness it was self defense.
Jefferson was seen with blood on his clothes as he left the locker room and attempted to leave the YMCA, police said in charging papers.
Jefferson is not a member of the YMCA and staff there did not recall seeing him at the facility in the past.
In charging papers, Kellner said he did not see any wounds to Jefferson’s hands, but Jefferson was treated at the hospital for a superficial cut.
Presiding over the June 9 vigil were Rabbi Peter Hyman from Temple B’nai Israel, the Rev. William T. Wallace from Union United Methodist Church and Father James Nash from Sts. Peter and Paul Parish. Pastor Craig Fadel of Bay Area Community Church in Easton offered the benediction. All community members were invited to attend.
Nash said he heard many people express fear in the aftermath of tragedy at the Easton Family YMCA.
“We are not going to allow that fear to control us as a community. We are not going to allow the darkness to envelop that light that is this community,” Nash said. “Sometimes we have to be that voice crying out in the darkness that brings light to a very, very difficult and dark situation.”
He urged audience members to remind their loved ones how much they love and care for them; “unfortunately it’s just a part of life that we take each other for granted.”
“I can tell you that woman standing there in that purple coat would give everything she has to see that man once again,” he said, looking to Doralice Cassidy.
Before the June 6 attack at the YMCA, Jefferson had reportedly entered Easton Middle School, which is located across Peachblossom Road from the YMCA.
In an email to Easton Middle School parents Thursday afternoon, June 6, Talbot County Superintendent of Schools Kelly Griffith said an adult who was known to staff members entered the building at the staff entrance before students arrived on campus.
“A teacher on duty at the entrance and a security officer escorted the adult from the building where upon he left the property,” Griffith wrote, according to a screenshot of the email posted on Facebook.
“There was no indication that any extra security measures were necessary and later students entered routinely,” Griffith wrote. “Later in the day, Easton Police notified us that this same individual had entered the YMCA.”
She said they were advised to continue normal operation at the school while the police completed their investigation of an incident at the YMCA.
“We certainly appreciate the swift actions of our trained staff and the cooperation of the Easton Police department to ensure the safety of our students and staff,” Griffith wrote.
Jefferson had been ordered out of his grandmother’s Chapel Road home in July 2016 after she sought a protective order against him, court records show.
About a month later, Betty G. Savoy charged her grandson with stealing her car.
Savoy asked for the protective order to be rescinded about eight months later, writing that Jefferson was going “to be released today and will be staying at my home.”
At the bail review hearing June 10, Deputy State’s Attorney Ellen Grunden argued for Jefferson to remain held without bond pending trial, expressing concern about the safety of the community and noting Jefferson was a potential flight risk.
“This was a brutal, unprovoked, vicious homicide in a place the community gathers,” Grunden said, noting Cassidy was a “random victim.”
She also said Talbot County previously had to extradite Jefferson from South Carolina in another case.
Assistant Public Defender Kisha Petticolas asked the court to set some bond in the case, noting the defense did not “agree with the facts outlined by the state.”
As the bail review ended, Jefferson could be heard saying, “This is a waste of time.”
A preliminary hearing for Jefferson is set for July 1.
Kayla Rivas and Candice Spector contributed to this report.