Plans Change for Murder Trial After New Lawyer Joins Case

A DC Superior Court judge rescheduled a murder trial to begin approximately one month later to accommodate a second defense lawyer who was recently appointed.

James Mayfield and Robert Moses, both 22, are charged with first-degree murder while armed in the death of 17-year-old Jamahri Sydnor. Sydnor was reportedly shot while driving on the 1400 block of Saratoga Avenue, NE, on Aug. 12, 2017.

Mayfield is also charged with first-degree murder while armed in the deaths of 38-year-old Jermaine Bowens and 21-year-old Elijah Henry. On Dec. 26, 2017, Bowens was found on the 2200 block of Douglas Street, NE, suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. The next day, Henry was found unconscious in a residence on the 1800 block of Bryant Street, NE, also suffering from shooting injuries.

Kevin McCants, Moses’ lawyer, previously asked DC Superior Court Judge Neal Kravitz to appoint an additional attorney. During a hearing on Nov. 16, McCants said he motioned for additional counsel at the request of his client, who would like a “second opinion” on his case, though McCants said he was more than able to handle the case himself.

When parties reconvened on Nov. 23, Judge Kravitz said he reached out to ten lawyers who handle cases of this nature, but their schedules often precluded them from being able to take on the case. However, one lawyer, Steven Kiersch, said he’s worked well with McCants in the past and expressed interest in representing Moses, but said he can only do so if the trial is rescheduled since he has another murder trial around that time. 

The trial was previously set to begin on Feb. 23. Parties agreed to push the start date to March 21. Kiersch, who attended the Nov. 23 proceedings via telephone from a train station, will serve as lead counsel for Moses.

Mayfield and Moses are also charged with assault with intent to kill while armed in a drive-by or random shooting offense committed during release, possession of a firearm during a crime of violence, assault with intent to kill, drive-by or random shooting, aggravated assault with grave risk while armed, obstruction of justice and conspiracy in that case.