Defense attorneys face time crunch in complex murder-and-drug-conspiracy trial

Pre-trial arguments are expected to be heard Tuesday in a high-profile murder and drug conspiracy case in which most defendants have flipped and attorneys couldn't review evidence with their clients until two days before trial due to safety concerns from prosecutors.

Robert G. Moore, 45, is accused of being at the top of an East Baltimore drug syndicate that killed a man and shot five others to avenge the death of his relative, former prep wrestling standout Darian Kess.


Prosecutors pointed to the indictment when it was filed 16 months ago as an example of taking on complex and challenging case. Most of the nine people charged have become cooperating witnesses, attorneys said in court. Court records show three charged in a related federal case have also been convicted.

When he entered the courtroom, Moore told Circuit Court Judge Emanuel Brown that the court did not have jurisdiction over him, repeating the phrase, "I reserve my rights," a long shot legal maneuver employed by defendants across the country who say they are "sovereign citizens" not subject to federal and state law. Brown told Moore he was being disruptive.

But Moore's defense attorney, James Scott, said convincing Moore that he would have to face the charges was not his biggest challenge.

Because of concerns about witness safety, prosecutors sought and were granted a court order limiting to 45 days prior to trial the time period that attorneys for Moore and co-defendants Quincy Lamont Chisholm and Anthony Roach would receive much of the evidence in the case.

The order said the attorneys could not share the witness-based evidence with their clients until just two days before trial, or Saturday. Moore is being held on unrelated charges in a Western Maryland prison, and Scott said he was prepared to make the trip with thousands of pages of documents but was denied by the warden due to a "family day" celebration.

"Mr. Moore, setting aside his personal and philosophical beliefs [about the court's jurisdiction] has not seen one piece of paper material to his defense," Scott told Brown.

Brown, who is not the judge who issued the order, asked why Scott hadn't protested more aggressively before the trial date.

"If I anticipated a ton [of evidence], I received 50 tons," Scott said. He pointed to a giant binder on the table in front of him, a box full of three more large binders, and a suitcase carrying giant stacks of paper held together by rubber bands.

Brown agreed to give some additional time, but will hear pre-trial arguments starting Tuesday morning.

Assistant State's Attorney LaRai Everett said the short time frame was necessary "because of the violent nature of the case" and said defense attorneys had been given extra time after an earlier motions hearing was postponed. But Scott countered that during the 10 days since the postponement, he had to handle eight other cases, including spending six hours in court waiting to simply obtain a postponement in another case.

The violence stems from the April 2011 stabbing of Kess, once a champion wrestler at powerhouse Archbishop Curley and Overlea High School whose future was derailed by a criminal conviction. Over the months to come, investigators say Moore and his crew killed the man they believed was responsible, as well as his brother and another relative and two people who had witnessed or been shot in those shootings.

Court records show co-defendants Emmanuel Deminds, 35, pleaded guilty to murder and drug conspiracy charges and will be sentenced in December, and Taylor Fleming, who was 16 when he was charged, received 20 years in prison with 10 years suspended after pleading guilty to murder conspiracy charges in April. Another defendant, David Warren, had all charges dropped over the summer, court records show.