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3 Face Life Sentences In 2009 Kidnapping, Extortion & Murder Plot

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BALTIMORE (WJZ)–Three people face a maximum life sentences for their role in kidnapping, extorting ransom money and killing a man in February 2009.

Darryl Nichols, 38, and Donta Vaughn, 37, were convicted Wednesday and are scheduled for sentencing in March. Sherrell Ferguson, 32, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and is scheduled for sentencing Feb. 5.

Police say Nichols, Vaughn and Ferguson kidnapped Eric Pendergrass on Feb. 1, 2009 and held him for ransom. Eight days later, his body was discovered in the Patapsco River near Cherry Hill Park. His cause of death was ruled homicide by asphyxiation.

Detectives determined that all three suspects conspired to kidnap Pendergrass, demand ransom money for him and then murder him.

Ferguson lured Pendergrass to the home of Vaughn, Ferguson’s boyfriend. They held Pendergrass captive in Vaughn’s apartment while Ferguson picked up ransom on two separate days.

The jury convicted Nichols and Vaughn of felony murder, conspiracy to commit false imprisonment, false imprisonment, conspiracy to commit extortion and extortion.

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