Man extradited from England to face murder charge wants trial delayed

November 21, 2012|By DON AINES |
  • Joshua Edwards
Joshua Edwards

HAGERSTOWN — The attorney for a man charged with murder who fought extradition from Great Britain for more than five years said Wednesday in Washington County Circuit Court that he wants his client’s trial postponed, in part because many witnesses in the 2006 case have yet to be located.

Joshua Edwards, 25, who was from Brooklyn, N.Y., was indicted in October 2006 in the July 23, 2006, fatal shooting of Jackson A. Rodriguez in a Washington Gardens apartment near Hagerstown. He was returned to Washington County in July after the European Court of Human Rights ruled that he could be extradited because the United States government had provided assurances that he would not face the death penalty.

Edwards was in court Wednesday for a suppression hearing before Washington County Circuit Judge Dana Moylan Wright, but his attorney, Bernard W. Semler II, withdrew the motion.

However, Semler indicated he would request a postponement of the trial, now set for Dec. 19.

Semler told Wright the state has issued about 30 witness subpoenas, but when he tried to subpoena people from the same list “the majority of the non-law enforcement witnesses cannot be found.”

The addresses provided for those witnesses are from 2006 and, now, “nearly every address is not valid.”

Additional phone records also have to be subpoenaed by the defense, Semler said.

Deputy State’s Attorney Joseph Michael told Wright the state will oppose a continuance, although any motion for a postponement will have to be made before Judge M. Kenneth Long Jr., who will be the trial judge.

“We are loathe to try a case on the three working days before Christmas,” Michael told Wright, but the state already has three murder cases scheduled for 2013.

“We are anxious to get this matter resolved,” said Michael, who indicated the state would consent to any additional subpoenas requested by the defense to speed the matter along.

As to time left for the defense to prepare for trial, Michael told Wright, “That’s not the state’s fault.”

“Mr. Edwards fled to England and fought extradition all the way through The Hague,” Michael said. “He cannot now allege he’s been put at a disadvantage.”

Semler said he has been Edwards’ attorney for only a couple of months, because Edwards dismissed his previous lawyer.

Edwards is accused of committing the murder with Olusegun Hakeem Ogundipe, of New York City, who was convicted in 2008 of participating in the killing of Rodriguez and the shooting of Tony Perry, who survived, but lost an eye. Ogundipe is serving two life sentences.

At Ogundipe’s trial, Steven Ramel Broadhead testified that he, Rodriguez and Perry brought $10,000 worth of cocaine from New York to sell in Hagerstown. Broadhead testified that Ogundipe held him at gunpoint as Edwards shot Rodriguez and Perry.

After the shooting, Edwards returned to New York and somehow made it to England, where he came to the attention of Scotland Yard in January 2007, Michael said after Edwards’ extradition.

Edwards was held in an English prison while fighting extradition.

He is charged with first-degree murder, first-degree attempted murder, second-degree murder, second-degree attempted murder, first- and second-degree assault and use of a handgun in a crime of violence, court records said.

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