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Man accused of shooting outside York courthouse faces trial
The York City man accused of shooting a Baltimore man just outside the York County Judicial Center earlier this year faces trial.
However, testimony during the preliminary hearing for Matthew Lynn Hughes Jr. 20, on Friday, June 22, revealed that the only people to identify Hughes as a suspect were police, and no witnesses had identified him prior to charges being filed.
Additionally, a gun seized from co-defendant Shyquel Folk, 15, did not positively match with the casings found at the scene, York City Detective George Ripley testified during the hearing.
The victim, 32-year-old Derek Dorsey, of Baltimore, did not attend Friday's hearing. The office of District Judge Linda Williams, where the hearing was held, confirmed that a subpoena was sent to him, but it was returned undeliverable.
Kyle King, spokesman for the York County District Attorney's Office, declined to comment on the strength of a case based on a witnesses involvement, but he said the DA's office, in any case, would not ethically proceed if they did not believe they could prove the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.
Williams deemed that the prosecution had enough evidence to proceed to trial.
Hearing: York City Police have said Hughes and Folk fired at Dorsey at the intersection of North Duke Street and East Clarke Avenue about 2:30 p.m. March 7. Dorsey was shot in the leg, according to officials.
At the time, Dorsey's cousin, Vernon Cox Jr., was on trial for the murder of Ryan Small, Hughes' brother.
Ripley said Dorsey was in the area at the time attending Cox's trial. Cox was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison.
During Friday's hearing, first assistant district attorney Jen Russell called Ripley to testify. Ripley was the only person who testified during the hearing.
The detective described the area of the shooting as "high traffic" for both pedestrians and vehicles. He said the department received multiple calls about the shooting, and one of the calls described the clothing of the shooters.
Ripley said surveillance footage from the scene shows two people holding their hands up in a shooting motion, then putting their hands down and leaving the scene. Before that, the two were walking in tandem, Ripley said.
Another camera caught the pair leaving, and Ripley said he could clearly see Hughes in the footage leaving the scene.
Ripley said there were at least a half-dozen officers who were able to positively identify Hughes in the footage.
Hughes' attorney, Paul Kovatch, asked how Ripley knew Hughes.
"I've already arrested him personally," Ripley said.
Defense: Kovatch told the judge that the identification in the case is an issue. Kovatch asked Ripley if anyone other than police identified Hughes, to which Ripley said no.
Kovatch asked if any of the casings found at the scene were tested for fingerprints, which Ripley said they were not. Additionally, Kovatch asked the detective if they recovered a weapon in their investigation, which he said they did. However, that gun was seized during Folks' arrest and was not the gun used in the shooting.
"That wasn't the right gun to those casings," Ripley said.
Kovatch asked the detective if there was any way that the person in the footage was someone other than Hughes.
"Absolutely not," Ripley said.
Kovatch asked Ripley if there was any sort of muzzle flash or weapon that could be seen on the surveillance footage, but Ripley said there was not.
Russell told the judge that there were casings and a bullet recovered from the scene that didn't appear "by magic."
"Their actions speak louder than words," she said.
The judge determined that the prosecution had enough evidence to proceed to county court.
Hughes' charges of conspiracy to commit aggravated assault, carrying a firearm without a license and recklessly endangering another person were bound over for court. Initially he had been charged with multiple counts of reckless endangerment, but the charges were consolidated into one.
After the hearing Friday, Kovatch said his client maintains his innocence. He declined further comment.
Second case: Hughes was scheduled to have another preliminary hearing in another case directly after the hearing Friday morning, but he waived his right to that hearing.
On Christmas Eve, he allegedly assaulted the mother of his child and twice threatened to kill her at a home in Red Lion, according to charging documents.
Police said Hughes punched and choked the woman, put a knife to her back, then pointed a gun at her after she fled with her child to a friend's home, documents allege.
In that case, state police filed charges against him that include being a convicted felon in illegal firearm possession, fleeing police, strangulation, making terroristic threats and simple assault.
On Friday, the prosecution agreed to withdraw all charges except for simple assault. It is not clear why that decision was made.
Both Russell and Kovatch declined to say why the charges were withdrawn.
Background: Charges were filed for Hughes in the shooting case on March 7, and it wasn't until early May that Hughes was arrested.
Folk's preliminary hearing was held last month, and all of his charges were bound over for trial, according to online court records.
Folk, who is charged as an adult, remains in York County Prison in lieu of $250,000 bail.
Hughes remains in York County Prison in lieu of $150,000 bail. He is scheduled to be formally arraigned on July 20.
— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser.