Prosecutors Not Seeking First-Degree Murder Charges Against Bernard Fleming and Joseph Peoples

One day before jury deliberations are expected to begin, prosecutors dropped first-degree murder charges against Bernard Fleming and Joseph Peoples.

Instead, the two men will be charged with the lesser offense of second-degree murder while armed, as well as tampering with physical evidence and eight related weapons charges. Peoples and Fleming are charged in connection with the June 2012 shooting death of Michael Jones.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to comment on the choice to reduce the charges.

During the trial, prosecutors argued that Peoples and Fleming ambushed Jones, his brother Maurice and two others on the night of June 7, 2012, after Maurice Jones and Fleming had a brief fight earlier in the day.

Defense attorneys say Fleming and Peoples did not shoot Michael Jones, and that they were actually the victims of the attack, which started because Fleming was having an affair with Maurice Jones’ girlfriend.

The decision to dismiss the charges in favor of two lesser counts came immediately after the two defense teams rested their cases. Both Peoples and Fleming waived their right to testify on their own behalf.

Closing arguments and jury deliberations are expected to begin Tuesday.

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