Akeem Rogers of Exmore, who was involved in the melee on October 20, 2014 in Northampton County Circuit Court, was arrested on September 14, 2014 and charged with felony eluding and 3rd offense of driving on a suspended license, and a prior conviction distributing illegal drugs probation violation was back in Circuit Court on Monday facing two new counts of possession with intent to distribute cocaine.
On July 12, 2017 Rogers was represented by court appointed attorney Carl Bundick who told the court that the defendant had raised enough money to retain a private lawyer therefore he was asking for a continuance which was granted.
When the case of the 2 new counts of possession with intent to distribute cocaine was called defense attorneys Kenneth Singleton and Curtis Brown were at the defense table. The case was scheduled for a jury trial even after the Commonwealth Attorney offered a plea agreement which was rejected.
The fireworks started during the jury selection when defense attorney Curtis Brown told the court that two black ladies had been struck for no reason other than the fact that they were black. Commonwealths Attorney Bruce Jones immediately responded that was not true, that he had had the potential jury list for several weeks and had done research on the 2 ladies in question and simply did not want them on this jury. Judge Lewis then told Mr. Brown that the strike list reflected that these 2 ladies had been Mr. Jones’ first 2 strikes therefore he believed that Jones had made the strikes based on research therefore motion overruled.
The final jury selection was made up of 6 men and 6 women with one black male and one black female.
Bruce Jones then told the court in his opening remarks that this was a reasonably simple case the Eastern Shore Drug Task Force had a confidential informant audio and video record a $225 transaction at Rogers home which would be shown and heard by the jury. In his opening remarks Brown asked the jury not to make any assumptions and to take into consideration the credibility of the confidential informant.
After lunch recess defense attorney Brown made a motion for a mistrial due to the fact that Jones had spoken to a juror as they left the jury room. Again Jones immediately responded stating as he was waiting for the jurors to leave the jury room he asked what he believed was the last juror was he the last juror, with the jurors response being yes. Judge Lewis then dismissed the motion for a mistrial. Defense attorney Brown immediately made a 2nd motion for a mistrial stating that a juror had spoken to the police chief at McDonald’s over lunch. Judge Lewis told Brown that this was a Northampton County case with Northampton deputies and the Eastern Shore Drug Task Force and that the Eastville police chief had nothing to do with this case and that it was not unusual for neighbors to speak as they cross paths in Northampton.
The first witness Steve Lewis of the Eastern Shore Drug Task Force stated that he had sent the confidential informant on March 28, 2017 to Walker Ln. in Exmore to make the purchase, and that the C.I. had made a $225 purchase. The 2nd witness deputy Glenn Bailey testified that he and Lewis had searched the C.I. along with the automobile used before and after the purchase. The forensic analysis of the white powder was entered into evidence after the testimony and lab work was presented.
The C.I. then testified that he set up the purchase on the phone and subsequently went to Rogers home in Exmore and tried to negotiate a lower price but paid the asking price of $225 for 3.5 grams of cocaine. He explained that the transaction took place in the kitchen with Rogers weighing the product and telling him to put the money on the counter which he did. On cross-examination the C.I. admitted that he was a convicted felon and had been working with the drug task force since sometime in 2016 making four to eight buys per month and that he had no cases pending for which he was going to get preferential treatment.
Steve Lewis was then recalled to the stand to explain the audio and video pretty much step-by-step. Lewis identified the defendant by his visual appearance and by tattoos on his right arm. The Commonwealth then told the court that they would like for the defendant to show his right arm to the jury. Fireworks erupted again stating that that request was out of order and had not been explained to them in discovery. Jones responded that they had been provided the video and that he did not have to explain his strategy but simply provide the evidence. Jones also then gave judge Lewis and the defense several case files that he stated proved that asking to see the defendants arm was legal and appropriate. Jones then said to the judge that he did expect a ruling at the moment and that they could take this up in Tuesdays court session.
At this point defense attorney Brown then wanted a female juror removed because she was defense attorney Tucker Watson’s wife and she might possibly know the defendant, or possibly Tucker had defended the confidential informant. Jones again informed the court that Brown had every opportunity to question Ms. Watson before accepting her as a juror. Judge Lewis told Brown that Ms. Watson had stated that she was defense attorney Tucker Watson’s wife and no questions were asked therefore motion denied.