Mental Competency Appeal Requires Key Witness

Defense counsel requests more time to find a key witness that would provide important information on a murder defendant’s mental health.

Defense attorney, Steven Kiersh, told Judge Motley he “has not yet found the witness,” and did not request the government’s assistance. Kiersh is instead applying for a writ to summon the witness to testify in court.

Rickey Pharr, murdered Angelo Jones after a dice game on the 5300 block of Dix Street, NE in 2010. According to court documents, a witness said Pharr, 34, said he recognized Jones, 31, as a government informant. After which, they said Pharr left to retrieve a gun.

A jury convicted Pharr in 2012 for first-degree murder while armed. DC Superior Court Judge Thomas Motley sentenced Pharr to 40 years in prison. Pharr’s co-defendant, Curtis Patterson, was sentenced to more than 11 years in prison for obstruction of justice and gun possession.

Kiersh said he believes Pharr’s sentence was too harsh, given the possibility of his mental incompetency. However, the defendant was found competent June 14 to stand trial. 

Pharr is scheduled for a status hearing on Oct. 5 and a post-disposition hearing on Oct.12.