Judge: Drug Testimony Out In DJ Mo Murder Case
WILKES-BARRE — Prosecutors will not be permitted to tell jurors that the vehicle used in the drive-by shooting that killed Michael Onley was procured as the result of a drug deal, a Luzerne County judge ruled Wednesday.
Judge David W. Lupas also ruled that jurors in the high-profile murder case will not visit the now-closed Outsiders Bar at 650 S. Main St. for a tour of the crime scene.
Roberto “Ruthless” Battle, 29, of Brooklyn, New York, and David “D-Rock” Nealy, 37, of Kingston, are set to stand trial in the slaying next month. Prosecutors say the suspects shot Onley, 34, in the head during a drive-by shooting after they were kicked out of the bar on Oct. 13, 2013.
Onley performed under the stage name DJ Mo and was known for organizing anti-violence and anti-drug events.
Prosecutors were seeking to tell the jury that the silver Mercedes-Benz used in Onley’s slaying was acquired as the result of a drug deal.
“They need to hear why David Nealy was driving a Mercedes that night, and the reason he was driving it was because it was given to him in exchange for drugs,” Assistant District Attorney Jarrett Ferentino argued in court Wednesday. “It doesn’t make him guilty. It’s just the facts of the case.”
Nealy’s attorney, Thomas P. Sundmaker of Stroudsburg, argued that the information is irrelevant and that the jury can simply hear that Nealy borrowed the car.
“So far, I’ve not seen any evidence or testimony whatsoever that this case involved drugs,” Sundmaker said.
Lupas sided with the defense that the drug testimony would be prejudicial, saying it will be enough for the prosecution to introduce evidence showing that Nealy merely borrowed the vehicle.
“The jury does not need to know that he’s a drug user or that drugs were involved,” Lupas said.
The judge also rejected a prosecution effort to bring jurors to the scene of the shooting, which they argued was necessary because of the “strangely shaped” crime scene.
Lupas said he had concerns about changes that have taken place at the scene in the years since the shooting, and ruled that prosecutors will have to rely on photographs and video evidence collected at the time of the crime.
Jury selection is set to begin Dec. 10.
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