Despite Grieving Family’s Distress, Judge Orders Retrial

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On Nov. 28, Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge John A. Howard ordered a retrial for an Ellicott City resident charged with the murder of Cornelius Bruce and the attempted murder of the man convicted of killing Cornelius’ brother, Cordelle Bruce.

Jimmy Murphy, 28, is scheduled to be retried for first and second-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, first-degree manslaughter, two counts each of first and second-degree assault, reckless endangerment, firearm use in a felony violent crime, illegal possession of a regulated firearm, having a handgun on his person, having a loaded handgun on his person, second-degree arson and two counts of altering physical evidence.

Murphy’s defense attorney, Sharon May, submitted a motion for a retrial on the grounds that the defense wasn’t aware that the attempted murder victim, who was 19-years-old at the time of the incident, sent a letter to the prosecution after the trial saying Murphy was innocent.

In the letter, the attempted murder victim said he was never contacted as a witness by the prosecution and that Murphy never shot anyone.

May said the prosecution should have presented the information to the defense sooner, so it could have been explored at trial. 

She stated that the prosecution made no attempt to interview the victim, even though there is a mechanism for police and prosecution to meet with a victim who is a suspect in another crime.

May also argued that Murphy was entitled to a retrial because the prosecution withheld transcripts from an interview when the attempted murder victim said the phone, which tied him to the scene, was actually his brother’s phone. 

A former prosecutor herself, May said Murphy should be given a retrial.

The prosecutor argued that the letter from the attempted murder victim claiming that Murphy was innocent was self-serving and shouldn’t be considered. She also said the claim Murphy and that victim didn’t know each other contradicted recordings of phone calls both parties made in jail.

The prosecution also said the phone tying the attempted murder victim to the scene did belong to him and not his brother since he didn’t allow police to download its contents.

The case facing the attempted murder victim is intertwined with Murphy’s case he would have incriminated himself if he had agreed to testify, the prosecution said. 

Judge Howard said the knowledge the attempted murder victim denied owning the cell phone could have been significant at trial.

Even though Judge Howard didn’t rule the prosecution’s actions were intentional misconduct, he granted the motion for a new trial.

Directly after Judge Howard declared a retrial, a family member of one of the victims stood up and shouted at the defendant. Earlier in the hearing another family member was asked by Judge Howard to leave the courtroom for talking out loud during the trial.

In addition to the motion for retrial based on missing evidence, Murphy also filed a motion for a retrial due to poor representation which was denied.

According to Fox 45 News, Murphy, the attempted murder victim, and another suspect were all wanted in connection to the deaths of the Bruce brothers. The two brothers were found murdered within days of each other.

The instigating incident which triggered the murders was, according to the prosecution, that the attempted murder victim, and Cordelle Bruce argued over a marijuana drug deal outside the Alameda Shopping Center on Jan. 14, 2020. The attempted murder victim and Horton were accused of fatally shooting Bruce later that day on the 1100 block of E. Belvedere Avenue.

The prosecution said Murphy was allegedly trying to avenge Cordelle’s death when he allegedly shot Cornelius and shot at the attempted murder victim.

Cornelius was found in a burning car with a gunshot wound on Jan. 20 on the 2800 block of St. Lo Drive.

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