Not Guilty” Plea to First Degree Murder Charge in Shooting Death of Shonell Chris Corriea

James Speaks pleaded innocent today to a charge of first-degree murder while armed in connection with the shooting death of Shonell Chris Corriea.

Speaks was arrested April 12 on suspicion of second-degree murder. Prosecutors allege that Corriea was killed in a Petworth alley on April 6 after telling his mother he was going outside to take out the trash. Corriea had been checking caller ID numbers on his phone immediately before going outside, prosecutors said.

Speaks was identified by the single eyewitness to the shooting, but his defense attorney, Renee Raymond, has argued that he didn’t kill Corriea.

At a preliminary hearing Raymond relied on rumors reported to come from the street, suggesting that not her client, but a man now dead, Kevin Washington, was responsible for Corriea’s killing.

“There was a very general description given that night that would certainly match Kevin ‘JR’ Washington,” Raymond said, later adding, “We’ve got some pretty good evidence for a motive and a name for someone else to do it.”

The indictment handed up Monday charges Speaks with first-degree murder while armed as well as two weapons charges. He pleaded innocent to each of the charges.

A status hearing has been set for Jan. 6.

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