Technical Difficulties Delay Closing Arguments in Multi-Defendant Homicide Trial

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On May 15, prosecutors in a six defendant homicide trial were unable to begin closing arguments due to technical difficulties. 

Gregory Taylor, 27, Quentin Michals, 25, Qujuan Thomas, 24, Darrise Jeffers, 23, Isaiah Murchison, 22, and Marquell Cobbs, 21, are six of 10 defendants charged with first-degree murder, criminal street gang affiliation, conspiracy, possession of a firearm during a crime of violence, assault with intent to kill, and other charges regarding a fatal drive-by shooting that resulted in 10-year-old Makiyah Wilson’s death.

The shooting happened on the 300 block of 53rd Street, NE on July 16, 2018. 

Prosecutors alerted the court they lost access to their closing arguments presentation due to technical issues, and that their information technology team was struggling to find a way to regain access to the lost documents.

Nonetheless, defense attorneys for Murchison, Cobbs, Thomas, and Jeffers rested their cases choosing not to make specific presentations to the jury. All six defendants exercised their right to not testify in trial. 

DC Superior Court Judge Robert Okun gave the jury instructions for deliberation after the defense lawyers resting their case.

During jury instructions, Judge Okun reminded them that it is their responsibility to decide what the facts of the case are and whether each defendant is responsible for the charges brought against them. 

“The verdict in this case is your sole responsibility,” he said. 

He also reminded jurors, if they find that the prosecutors have proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendants committed the offenses, it is their duty to find them guilty. However he stated if the prosecutors failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the defendants had committed the offenses, it is also their duty to find them innocent. 

Regarding evidence, Judge Okun said, jurors are only allowed to hold defendants accountable for what each said. Several pieces of evidence were directed against individual defendants, but those that were specifically directed against just one of them need to be considered only against that individual. 

Judge Okun also told jurors all the defendants maintain their innocence, denying any participation in any of the incidents for which they’re charged.

Parties are expected back May 16 when the prosecution is expected to be prepared to make its closing argument.

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