In a Monday afternoon hearing regarding the upcoming trial of Edward Ryals Jr., defense attorney Amanda Dunn argued that the inconsistent testimonies of a witness who has since been murdered should be excluded from the trial.
Ryals, now 21, is charged with the shooting death of Ronald Blackmon in 2011. According to police, he was riding in a car with two other young men, Demetrius Bibbs and Quincy Bell. In Ryals' original statement to police, he confessed to being the one who shot Blackmon.
Police believe the shooting was gang-related.
However, according to attorney Dunn, Ryals was actually taking the blame to save Bell. Bell's girlfriend at the time later testified that Bell told her shortly after the incident that Ryals had taken the attempted murder charge for him. That charge became first-degree murder after Blackmon died in the hospital.
Ryals' previous attorney, Robin Flores, also argued that Ryals had agreed with his friends to take responsibility for the incident.
In Bell's original description of what happened, he said he was in the passenger seat and Bibbs was driving, leaving Ryals as the shooter.
However, Bell was shot and killed in 2012. Marcus Boston was charged, but the state did not have enough evidence to proceed.
Because of this, attorney Dunn wants Bell's testimony from a previous hearing to be excluded. She said it was not challenged at the time, and now Bell cannot be questioned.
She said, "I think the entirety of that statement is excluded under the Sixth Amendment." The Sixth Amendment states that the accused has the right to be "confronted with the witnesses against him."
Criminal Court Judge Rebecca Stern pointed out that when she had previously decided to exclude it, her ruling was about not "allowing the state to play it as if it were a witness."
Ryals' trial is scheduled for April 29.