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Trial of New York man put on hold while double jeopardy appeal is heard

July 23, 2013|By DON AINES | dona@herald-mail.com
  • Joshua D. Edwards
Joshua D. Edwards

The trial of a New York man who fled the country after a 2006 murder in Hagerstown has been put on hold while his double jeopardy appeal is heard by the Maryland Court of Special Appeals, according to Washington County Circuit Court records.

Joshua Edwards, 26, of Brooklyn, N.Y., is charged with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder and other offenses in the July 23, 2006, shooting death of Jackson A. Rodriguez at the Washington Gardens apartment complex.

Another man, Tony Perry, was shot in the head and lost an eye in the incident.

A mistrial was declared in Edwards’ case earlier this year. His second trial on the charges was to have begun next week until Long issued the stay, halting any circuit court action until the state’s second highest court hears Edwards’ appeal.

Another man, Olusegun Hakeem Ogundipe of New York City, was convicted in 2008 of participating in the killing and is serving a life sentence.

Edwards fled the country and was detained in Great Britain in January 2007. He fought extradition until last year when the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the U.S. government had provided assurances he would not face the death penalty if he were returned here for trial.

A jury trial for Edwards began in February, but on the second day, Judge John H. McDowell declared a mistrial because Edwards’ attorney had previously represented a key prosecution witness in a custody case.

Edwards later filed a motion to have the case dismissed on grounds of double jeopardy, a prohibition against a defendant being tried twice on the same charges. A hearing was held in June on the motion before visiting circuit Judge Diane O. Leasure.

Leasure later ruled there “was no evidence of prosecutorial or judicial overreaching or an abuse of discretion in declaring a mistrial,” and that “McDowell wanted to ensure that the defendant received competent and effective legal representation.”

Earlier this month, Edwards’ new attorney, James Podlas, filed a notice of appeal of the circuit court ruling with the appeals court and also requested the stay.

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