A first degree murder trial for Rickey Pharr is underway, despite continuing disagreements between the government and Pharr’s defense attorney over evidence and witnesses.
The trial, which was scheduled to begin last Monday, has been marked by fits and starts. Before jury selection last week, Pharr’s case was severed from that of his co-defendant, Curtis Patterson. Other motions further delayed the case. A jury was seated Thursday afternoon and opening arguments were heard then.
Pharr, 28, is suspected of fatally shooting Angelo Jones during or near a craps game in Southeast D.C. in October 2010. According to the government’s evidence, Pharr said, before the shooting, that Jones was “hot,” i.e. a government informant.
Testimony Tuesday morning was delayed when Pharr’s attorney, Jason Downs, told Judge Thomas Motley that he had asked the U.S. Attorney’s Office whether Jones was, in fact, an informant. The office told him that Jones was not, Downs said.
But when witnesses Tuesday were expected to address Jones’ relationship with the government, Taylor told the court that Jones was, in fact, in touch with detectives and prosecutors. He was providing relevant information about a case, but he was not officially considered an informant, she said.
Downs opposed testimony about Jones’ status, saying that had he known that Jones was cooperating with law enforcement he would have sought out other people present at the shooting who might have had that as a motive to kill Jones.
Court adjourned Tuesday awaiting Motley’s decision on whether and how evidence of Jones’ alleged cooperation with law enforcement could be pursued.