Defense Counsel Seeks Severance, Classifies Other Defense Attorney As ‘Second Prosecutor’

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Ahead of a trial scheduled for August, pending motions, including a motion to sever a co-defendant trial, led an attorney to state that he could exculpate his client by proving the co-defendant was the shooter.

Ky’lee Palmer, 25, and Aaron Adgerson, 20, are charged with first-degree premeditated murder while armed, assault with intent to kill while armed, and possession of a firearm during a crime of violence for their alleged involvement in a drive-by shooting that killed 60-year-old Barron Goodwin on Feb. 12, 2020 near a residence on the 800 block of 51st Street, SE. 

Palmer is also charged with destruction of property of $1,000 or more and tampering with physical evidence for allegedly burning the suspected vehicle, a black Nissan Altima, after the shooting occurred. 

At the July 8 hearing, parties addressed Palmer’s motion to sever from Adgerson.

Michael Madden, Adgerson’s defense attorney, stated he had not filed a written response to Palmer’s motion, but contended that having the same trial “is strategically to Mr. Adgerson’s advantage” because he could present exculpatory information for Adgerson, such as highlighting Palmer’s history of domestic violence with his ex-girlfriend, as it would show a motive for Palmer to commit the crime and act as the shooter.

According to court documents, Goodwin, who suffered from dementia, was sleeping upright on a couch when a bullet catapulted through a window and struck him in the back of his head. 

Goodwin was not believed to be the intended target of the shooting. Instead, the brother of Palmer’s then-girlfriend, who lived at the residence that was fired at, was believed to be the suspected target. According to a police report, the brother and Palmer got into an argument over Palmer taking his then-girlfriend’s phone and not returning it to her.

David Akulian, Palmer’s defense attorney, argued that it would be “twice as difficult” to have a joint trial because Adgerson’s defense would act as a “second prosecutor” in the case.

Completely opposed to Palmer’s motion, the prosecution argued that there was no basis to sever the trial based on the evidence linking the two defendants together, adding that video surveillance shows the shooting. It was clear the shooting occurred from the passenger’s side of the suspected vehicle, where Adgerson allegedly sat, the prosecutor said.

Judge O’Keefe did not rule on the motion. 

Akulian and Madden also argued against the prosecution’s motion to admit evidence of other uncharged conduct, specifically two different criminal activities related to Palmer. 

According to Akulian, prosecutors wanted to present evidence that Palmer allegedly stole the suspected vehicle three days before the shooting, as well as his domestic violence history against his former girlfriend.

Video surveillance shows an individual, identified as Palmer, in the vehicle near the 1300 block of Morris Road, SE, according to court documents. Data shows Palmer’s cell was also in that same location at the same time.

According to a witness, on the day of the shooting and three days prior, Palmer was observed in the suspected vehicle near the 800 block of Chesapeake Street, SE.

The prosecution stated that three shell casings were located inside the vehicle, which was examined by an expert who found that they were consistent with being fired from the same gun that was recovered outside the crime scene.

The prosecution also played a rap music video on YouTube where individuals identified as Adgerson and Palmer were seen holding and surrounded by firearms.

The defense teams opposed the prosecution’s admittance of evidence related to the defendants’ alleged involvement in a neighborhood crew known as “4DMG,” or “For Da Money Gang,” which associated itself with the 1300 block of Morris Road, SE.

In response, the prosecution stated they were “trying to minimize prejudice” while proving the dynamics of the co-defendants’ relationship and showing their association to the “4DMG” group.

The prosecutor added that Adgerson’s older brother, who was friends with Palmer, was a part of the group and went by the name, “Rich Gas,” which they believed was important to mention to jurors as Adgerson was similarly called “Baby Gas.” The prosecution further stated that Palmer was known as “XD.”

The prosecution was executing a “naked backdoor attempt” by seeking to admit “gang material,”Akulian said, adding that neither defendant is charged with being in a crew or gang.

“It’s just so prejudicial when you start bringing in gang stuff when it’s not a gang case,” said Judge O’Keefe.

“He wants to be like his brother and he wants to be in 4DMG,” asserted the prosecution, saying, “That’s why he did what he did.”

“They don’t have any evidence to back up [their] theory,” stated Madden.

Judge O’Keefe is slated to rule on the pending motions at a later date.

Parties are scheduled to reconvene on Aug. 2.

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