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Alleged Bloods and Crips Gang Members Closer to Trial Date

Alleged gang members who were arrested by police back in April in a shooting in Hagerstown are now looking towards a trial date.
HAGERSTOWN, Md. - Alleged gang members who were arrested by police back in April in a shooting in Hagerstown are now looking towards a trial date.

The shooting happened on April 15, 2013. The defendants are said to have ties to the Bloods and Crips gangs and might be looking at consolidated trials, something one defense attorney said isn't fair.

"Rather than have eight -15 different trials, you can have two trials and the evidence would come in trial number one against those defendants, and evidence in the second case against all of those defendants and we think that is fundamentally unfair, " said Ira C. Cooke, one of the defense attorneys.

On the other side representing the state, Prosecuting Attorney Steven Kessell says consolidation is being asked for mostly out of convenience.

In a statement he gave to WHAG, Kessell said, "Maryland Court Rule 4-253(a) provides that the court may order a joint trial for two or more defendants charged in separate charging documents if they are alleged to have participated in the same act or transaction or in the same series of acts or transactions constituting an offense or offenses."

Kessell said it would require less court time and the state's witnesses would only need to testify once.

"It's very difficult for jurors to begin to make separate decisions about separate defendants when they have been together all week and are referred to as a group or referred to as a particular gang," said Cooke, in a defense response.

Cooke also said that one of the issues he has in particular with the case is the use of street names to identify the defendants. These names include Scooby, White Casper and Fat 'T'.

"If you have four gentlemen standing on a street corner, and one person has a gun, and they take off in four different directions, under the state's theory...the other three individuals who did not have guns are legally as responsible as the person who does the shooting," Ira Cooke said. He went on to describe how the trials would be separated, "One case, the Bloods, one case the Crips."

A hearing was held in Washington County Circuit Court Tuesday. Judge M. Kenneth Long did not rule on consolidation yet, he took the information under sub curia, or advisement. A decision is expected within the next few weeks.

A motions hearing is set for sometime during October or early November, and the four day trial is set to start Monday, December 16. Officials say that's only if a judge doesn't rule the defendants will be tried separately.

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