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DJ Mo Murder Suspect Takes Stand

December 15, 2018
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DJ Mo Murder Suspect Takes Stand

WILKES-BARRE — Labeling the homicide suspects as the “lying driver and ruthless shooter,” a Luzerne County prosecutor on Friday asked a jury to convict them both of first-degree murder for killing a popular local deejay outside a city bar in 2013.

The alleged shooter’s attorney claimed he’s being framed and another man is the killer.

The driver admitted being behind the wheel, identified the shooter, but claimed he had no idea shots were about to ring out.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys delivered closing arguments Friday in the trial for the shooting death of popular local deejay Michael Onley, who was gunned down outside the now-closed Outsiders Bar at 650 S. Main St. on Oct. 13, 2013.

A jury will return to the Luzerne County courthouse on Monday to decide the fate of alleged gunman Roberto “Ruthless” Battle, 29, of Brooklyn, New York, and his alleged driver, David “D-Rock” Nealy, 37, of Kingston.

Ignoring the advice of his attorney, Nealy took the witness stand on Friday to explain his actions that night.

Prosecutors allege Battle blasted at least nine shots at a crowd, angered he got kicked out of the bar earlier in the night. Battle chose not to testify.

Onley, known as “DJ Mo,” was shot in the head and died shortly after finishing the gig at the club. Earlier in the night, Onley took a photo of Nealy dancing in front of the deejay both. Ferentino showed the photo to the jury.

“He was staring at the man who would kill him. Think about that,” Ferentino said.

On the stand Friday, Nealy claimed to be unaware Battle planned to shoot. He said after he and Battle left the club, Battle asked him to return to meet up with two girls. First, they stopped at an apartment on North Franklin Street. Nealy said he thought Battle was grabbing a bottle of liquor, but prosecutors say that’s where he retrieved the gun.

Nealy claimed he was smoking a cigarette while driving a borrowed Mercedes Benz, had the music blasting and faintly heard gunshots while near Outsiders. He said he thought his car was being shot at and fled.

During cross examination, Assistant District Attorney Jarrett Ferentino told Nealy it was inconceivable he wouldn’t know the shots were coming from his car.

“You were right next to the gun,” Ferentino said.

Ferentino hammered home the point again during his closing arguments, saying it’s silly to claim music could drown out the sound of gunshots.

“At what point don’t you see the passenger reaching out the window blasting? A lie. A lie. An insulting lie at that,” Ferentino said.

Nealy insisted he didn’t know until seconds later when Battle admitted to the shooting.

“Mr. Battle said, ‘That was me.’ I said, ‘What do you mean that was you?’ He said, ‘I just shot up in the air,’” Nealy claimed.

Nealy claimed he didn’t know anyone was shot at the bar.

Later in the evening, at a house party, someone told him Onley was shot.

“I was like, ‘Damn. I just seen him,’” Nealy said. “I was upset. I was mad.”

Leaving the party, Nealy said he questioned Battle.

“I said, ‘I hope that DJ Mo’s death wasn’t the result of you,’” Nealy said. “I thought maybe another incident occurred, or at least that’s what I was hoping because he said he shot in the air.”

 

Nealy said he didn’t go to police because acquaintances of Battle had threatened his life multiple times.

Battle’s attorney Allyson Kacmarski tried to pin the shooting on a mutual acquaintance, Shakim “Killer” Varick, whose gun was used in the shooting. She noted Nealy knew Varick for years, but had just met Battle, and that’s why he’s framing Battle.

Varick testified earlier in the trial that he was in New York at the time of the shooting.

On the stand, Nealy said he was familiar and friendly with Onley, having hired him to play at his daughter’s birthday party.

Ferentino then questioned why he didn’t check to see if Onley was OK after hearing he was shot.

“Why didn’t you go back to see if he was OK?” Ferentino said. “What did you do? You took ‘Ruthless’ home.”

After the prosecution rested on Friday morning, Nealy and his attorney Thomas P. Sundmaker debated whether he should testify.

“I do not believe it’s in his best interest at this time,” Sundmaker told Luzerne County Judge David Lupas.

Lupas told Nealy it was his right to remain silent or to testify. Nealy struggled to make a decision while contemplating what choice to make for several minutes. After a private meeting, Sundmaker said Nealy “feels he absolutely needs to testify” despite his advice that he shouldn’t.

Nealy took the stand around 10:45 a.m., explaining why he chose to testify.

“I have to speak my peace. I have to give DJ Mo’s family closure. I can’t keep this burden weighing me down,” Nealy said.

Contact the writer:

bkalinowski@citizensvoice.com

570-821-2055; @cvbobkal

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