• Lynda Cohen

Trial in 2015 killing still set after plea deals fall through

Updated: May 14

“Three years,” Luana Molley repeated several times as she sat in court Thursday, awaiting a possible conclusion of the case against her nephew’s accused killers. DeVonte Molley was 23 when he was found shot dead Dec. 21, 2015, inside the Baymont Inn & Suites Atlantic City. The three men accused of killing him were set to go on trial next month. But after a day of negotiations, it seemed the men would plead guilty instead.  Attorneys for alleged shooter Sterling Spence and co-defendant Charles Wynn had already talked to their clients. The victim’s family was called, and Luana Molley came to represent her loved ones to watch the pleas take place.  But when the attorney for Maurice Burgess — the third defendant — arrived, he let them know his client was not taking a deal. The pleas were either all or nothing. So, this meant no deals.

Durann Neil, who recently got the case from a private attorney who was assigned by the Public Defender’s Office, told the judge he needed more time, and asked that the trial be postponed another month or two. “I want to make sure I’m adequately prepared,” he said, noting his client’s “life is on the line.” But the state is prepared to move forward, Assistant Prosecutor Rick McKelvey told the judge, noting this was the second or third trial date it had been given. “DeVonte Molley’s family has certainly waited around long enough,” he said. Judge Donna Taylor agreed, adding that the trial date was set back in June, and that the lawyers representing the other two defendants had raised no issues with receiving all the evidence they need from the state. The trial remains set for Jan. 15.

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