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Lawyer seeks separate trials

Jun. 24, 2013 @ 10:37 PM

HUNTINGTON -- A defense attorney for one of two men charged in a double homicide from last year said his side wants separate trials.

The prosecution opposed that motion, however its representative said Monday she has a preference for which suspect her side will try first in the Nov. 6, 2012, shootings that killed two men from Detroit.

Cabell Circuit Judge Paul T. Farrell will take up the issue at a hearing July 23.

Thomas Maurice White, 21, and Rocky Hudson Williams, 19, both of Huntington, each face two counts of murder in the shooting deaths of Darrell Fugua, 22, and DeVante Penn, 17, both of Detroit. It happened about 10:30 a.m. inside an alleged drug house at 1939 Foster Ave.

The request for separate trials came from White's attorney, Tim Rosinsky. Their side points blame at Williams. To further that belief and potentially discredit Williams' statement to police, White's defense received the necessary permission Monday to pay for the analysis of carpet fibers found in Williams' hooded sweatshirt.

If separate trials are granted, assistant prosecutor Sharon Frazier said she will elect to try Williams first.

Williams told police they went to the house to get heroin. According to his account, White went upstairs and gunshots soon followed, killing Fugua. Williams remained downstairs with Penn and fired shots of his own upon hearing the initial gunfire and seeing White's bloodstained leg. That second round of gunfire critically injured Penn.

Williams' attorney, John Laishley, told the court their side will push for a speedy trial in this term of court.

That may be difficult as Frazier anticipates it may take six to eight weeks for the State Police laboratory to complete the necessary DNA analysis. The Huntington Police Department will need additional time thereafter to complete its final report.

Frazier and both defense attorneys told the court DNA remains the largest task standing in the way of trial preparation.

Farrell will entertain the idea of scheduling a trial date at a hearing early next month. That proceeding will pertain to the prosecution's desire to use a statement Penn provided to police as they arrived on scene. He slipped into a coma soon thereafter and died at a hospital days later.

Follow Curtis Johnson at Facebook.com/curtisjohnsonHD and via Twitter @curtisjohnsonHD.

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