Opening Statements Heard in the Murder Trial Against Joseph Peoples and Bernard Fleming

All Maurice and Michael Jones wanted to do on the night of June 7, 2012 was talk to Bernard Fleming and Joseph Peoples about a fight earlier that day. But Fleming and Peoples didn’t want to talk, said Assistant United States Attorney Kathryn Rakoczy.

Instead, Rakoczy said, Fleming and Peoples ambushed and shot at the Jones brothers, leaving Michael dead with a bullet in his head and Maurice injured with bullet fragments in his chest.

The men are each charged with ten criminal counts in connection with Jones’ death. Opening arguments were held in the case Tuesday.

Fleming’s attorney Gregg Baron argued his client did not fire a shot and that no witness would be able to place a gun in Fleming’s hand during the shooting. Instead, Baron pointed to another shooter: the brother of one of Peoples’ friends. Baron said he fired the shots because he thought his brother was in danger.

Baron also called into question the reliability of Maurice Jones’ testimony, saying his testimony would contradict statements he had made at other times leading up to the trial. Baron told jurors Fleming has cooperated with police since he was stopped shortly after the shooting—a sign of his innocence, Baron said.

Peoples’ attorney Emily Barth argued the Jones brothers were the aggressors in the incident, and that Peoples hid behind a car in an effort to avoid their attacks, which Barth said were a result of an affair Fleming had had with Maurice Jones’ girlfriend.

Maurice Jones is tired of being played a fool, tired of losing to Bernard Fleming, tired of losing face,” Barth said in opening statements.

Fleming’s defense also mentioned the possibility that Maurice and Fleming argued over a girl.

Prosecutors say that video shows the Jones brothers outside of the building running away suddenly, indicating an surprise attack or ambush. Two other videos shows Peoples running into the building, tucking a gun into his waistband, and later apparently placing something under the stairs, Rakoczy argued.

Police later recovered two guns under the same stairwell, according to Officer Robert McCollum, who testified for the prosecution later in the day.

The trial is set to resume Wednesday at 10 a.m.

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