Prosecutors Seek To Bring Jury To DJ Mo Murder Scene
WILKES-BARRE — Prosecutors on Thursday revealed they want to take the jury in an upcoming high-profile murder case to the scene of the crime.
When jurors convene in December to decide the fates of Roberto “Ruthless” Battle, 29, of Brooklyn, New York, and David “D-Rock” Nealy, 37, of Kingston, they should be able to get a first-hand view of the spot 34-year-old Michael Onley was killed — outside the now-closed Outsiders Bar at 650 S. Main St., Assistant District Attorney Jarrett Ferentino said.
“This is not your garden-variety homicide,” Ferentino said. “This is something that the jury should see it the way these two defendants saw it that night.”
Prosecutors say Onley — who performed under the stage name DJ Mo and was known for organizing anti-violence and anti-drug events — was not targeted but was shot in the head during a drive-by shooting after Battle and Nealy were kicked out of the bar.
During Thursday’s hearing, the prosecution argued that the size of the crime scene would prevent jurors from getting an accurate scale of the scene from piecemeal photographs.
The defense argued that the area has changed since the bar closed, and would not give jurors an accurate picture of the scene as it was when Onley was killed on Oct. 13, 2013.
Luzerne County Judge David W. Lupas also seemed skeptical, noting that it’s always better to see something in person, but most juries see only aerial photographs or Google Earth images.
“If that were the standard, it would be done in every single trial,” Lupas said.
The judge gave the defense time to file a written response to the prosecution motion and will rule at a later date.
The motion was one of a number being argued during a hearing Thursday, including defense motions to prevent jurors from seeing autopsy photos showing a gunshot wound between Onley’s eyes and from hearing that Nealy had access to the vehicle allegedly used in the drive-by because he gave its owner drugs.
The defense is also seeking to prevent the prosecution from referring to Onley as a “victim” at the trial. Nealy’s attorney Thomas P. Sundmaker, of Stroudsburg, argued that the term “presupposes victimization.”
“It’s a strong term,” Sundmaker said. “To refer to him as a victim and to have the court refer to him as a victim creates a burden upon the defendant to prove that he’s not.”
Ferentino maintained that Onley was clearly a victim and that there is no reason to change the English language.
“This is a homicide trial. Mr. Onley is the victim of a gunshot,” Ferentino said. “The question is who was on the other end of the gun.”
Lupas set another hearing for Nov. 21 and said he would rule on the motions at a later date. The trial is set to begin Dec. 10.