Jurors Convict Bernard Fleming, Acquit Joseph Peoples on Murder Charge

After more than two days of deliberations, jurors found Bernard Fleming guilty of second-degree murder and Joseph Peoples innocent of the same charge in the shooting death of Michael Jones.

Jones was found shot on July 7, 2012, at approximately 10:38 pm in the 1700 block of 7th Street Northwest. At trial, Deputy Medical Examiner Dr. Sunil Kumar testified that he was killed by a gunshot wound to the back of the head.

The jury also found Fleming guilty of six related charges, including two counts of assault with intent to kill and carrying a pistol outside of the home. Peoples was cleared of five other charges, but he was found guilty of carrying a pistol outside the home and tampering with evidence.

Although both men were found guilty of carrying a pistol outside of the home, because a federal judge recently declared the law unconstitutional both defense teams introduced motions to dismiss those charges. Judge Robert Morin did not decide on the motions before the verdict was read.

During trial, prosecutors argued that Fleming shot at Michael and Maurice Jones and two others from a balcony on the 1700 block of 7th Street Northwest. The prosecution used video footage from the building, as well as witness testimony and ballistics evidence.

Peoples’ defense attorneys argued that Peoples did not fire a gun and cited a lack of shell casings found near where Peoples stood during the shooting.

Today’s verdict was great,” Michael Jones’ aunt, Linda Mercer, said outside the courtroom. “To us, it’s another person taken off the street who has no respect for another human’s life.”

Mercer added that she expected the verdict of not guilty for Peoples, but said, “God takes care of all that.”

Fleming and Peoples are scheduled for sentencing on Sept. 12 at 11 a.m. Both will be held until sentencing.

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