Judge Addresses Conflict Counsel In Homicide Case

DC Superior Court Judge Maribeth Rafinnan heard arguments concerning prior representation of two co-defendants during a June 24 hearing.

Robert Moses, 23, and James Mayfield, 22, have been charged in connection to the death of 17-year-old Jamahri R. Sydnor . On Aug. 10, 2017, officers from the Metropolitan Police Department responded to reports of a shooting. Officers found three victims on the scene, two of which suffered non-lethal wounds. Sydnor was found on the intersection of Saratoga and Montana Avenue, NE suffering from gunshot wounds.  

Moses and Mayfield face multiple counts of assault with intent to kill while armed, possession of a firearm during a crime of violence, threat to kidnap or injure a person, first-degree murder while armed, robbery while armed, assault with a dangerous weapon, aggravated assault knowingly while armed, possession of an unregistered firearm, attempt to commit robbery while armed, obstructing justice, and conspiracy while armed. 

The main conflict surrounded a witness who had previously been represented by Moses and Mayfield’s current defense attorneys, Steven Kiersh and Sweta Patel.  

“Ms. Patel gleaned a whole lot of information from witness #30,” conflict counsel attorney Lisbeth Sapirstein stated. 

The prosecution’s main concern was that Kiersh and Patel could use privileged information from private client-attorney discussions in cross-examination.

Kiersh clarified that his co-counsel, Kevin Mccants, would cross-examine the witness in Kiersh’s place. Sapirstein and her co-conflict attorney, Errin Scialpi, argued that Kiersh’s prior knowledge could still impact questioning. 

Veronice Holt, Patel’s co-counsel, pointed out that if a conflict is found, Moses and Mayfield may be required to change counsel, which could push back their trial date.

In response to the prosecutor’s request for a briefing schedule, Judge Raffinan agreed to return to the matter at another date.

Judge Raffinan also addressed the defense’s concerns over the destruction of a key murder weapon.

According to the prosecution, documents provided by the U.S Attorney’s Office in Greenbelt lacked a signature from the individual who authorized the destruction of the weapon. The prosecution is requesting documents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives to investigate the issue.

Mayfield and Moses are scheduled for a motion hearing for July 29.