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Death Penalty Trial Set for Jacob Holmes, Jr. in 2009 PA Slaying of Miguel Aponte, Jr.
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Thread: Death Penalty Trial Set for Jacob Holmes, Jr. in 2009 PA Slaying of Miguel Aponte, Jr.

  1. #1
    Administrator Moh's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010

    Death Penalty Trial Set for Jacob Holmes, Jr. in 2009 PA Slaying of Miguel Aponte, Jr.

    Death penalty sought against Easton man

    By Riley Yates
    The Morning Call

    Northampton County prosecutors will seek the death penalty against an Easton man accused of gunning down another man inside a downtown bar, charges that were brought after an alleged accomplice began cooperating with authorities.

    Jacob Holmes Jr., a nephew of boxing legend Larry Holmes, put others in grave risk of death in 2009 when he opened fire inside Easton Cafe, the district attorneys office said in a death-penalty notice filed Tuesday.

    Holmes is charged with the homicide of 24-year-old Miguel Aponte Jr., who was shot repeatedly by a masked gunman who entered the crowded bar through the backdoor, according to testimony.

    There were a bunch of customers that had to dive away for their lives, said First Deputy District Attorney Terence Houck. He said some were inches from the shooting.

    They were all standing right there where Miguel Aponte was killed, Houck said. They were all right there at the bar.

    The notice was filed as Holmes, 37, was arraigned at the county courthouse by Judge Michael Koury Jr. Holmes, who was shackled and handcuffed in a red prison jumpsuit showed no reaction as Koury detailed the capital charges.

    Matthew Goodrich, one of three public defenders who represented Holmes at the hearing, had no comment afterward. Holmes father, Jacob Holmes Sr., who has long asserted his sons innocence, also declined comment.

    The junior Holmes was publicly named as a suspect in 2013, but wasnt charged until this summer, after self-admitted accomplice Franklin Barndt implicated him to investigators.

    Barndt is serving 16 to 42 years in state prison after pleading guilty in 2014 to conspiracy to commit homicide in Apontes death. Barndt, 40, acknowledged serving as the lookout and the getaway driver, and to getting rid of the murder weapon afterward.

    Prosecutors have said Barndt was offered no deals in exchange for his newfound cooperation. Last year, Barndt and his lawyer reached out on their own to authorities, police say, with Barndt incriminating Holmes when he was re-interviewed by investigators.

    Authorities allege Holmes killed Aponte on March 30, 2009, in revenge for a prior shooting.

    In 2006, Holmes friend, 23-year-old Jason Oliver of Easton, was slain outside a Wilson strip club. Holmes was wounded by gunfire that night.

    Apontes friend, John Logan Jr., pleaded guilty to third-degree murder, and Aponte was initially also charged with homicide. But Aponte ended up admitting only to lesser charges, including weapons offenses.

    Pennsylvania permits capital punishment in cases of first-degree murder in which at least one of 18 aggravating circumstances including the risk of death to others are present. Jurors must unanimously agree that a death sentence is appropriate for it to be imposed.

    Tuesdays death-penalty notice also contained a second aggravating circumstance: that Holmes was allegedly illegally carrying a firearm when Aponte was killed.

    Pennsylvania is under an execution moratorium, which Gov. Tom Wolf declared in 2015. Just three men have been put to death in the state in the modern era of capital punishment, and all three were volunteers who dropped legal challenges to their sentences.


  2. #2
    Senior Member CnCP Legend CharlesMartel's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Judge won't dismiss statements made in Jacob Holmes Jr. murder case

    Court also allows D.A. to consider death penalty

    By Edward Sieger
    WFMZ Allentown

    EASTON, Pa. - A Northampton County judge has refused to suppress statements made to police by the suspect in the deadly 2009 Easton Caf shooting.

    The judge also rejected the defense’s request to take the death penalty off the table and find a new venue for the homicide trial that’s slated for February 2019.

    Jacob Holmes Jr. is accused in the fatal shooting of Miguel Aponte inside the Easton Caf in March 2009. Authorities arrested the nephew of boxing legend, Larry Holmes, in August 2017 after the Northampton County District Attorney’s Office had empaneled a grand jury to investigate the homicide.

    Investigators have alleged that the shooting stems from a 2006 altercation between Holmes and Aponte outside a Wilson Borough strip club.

    Defense attorney Brian Monahan asked Northampton County Judge Michael Koury to suppress statements Holmes allegedly made to an Easton police lieutenant investigating the case and a detective who processed Holmes after his arrest.

    Darren Snyder, a detective with the Easton Police Department, testified before Koury last month that he processed Holmes at police headquarters after his arrest in Bethlehem Township on Aug. 15, 2017.

    Snyder said he fingerprinted and photographed Holmes before taking him to central booking at the county prison.

    Under questioning by First Deputy District Attorney Terry Houck, Snyder testified that Holmes told him during processing, “I had nothing to do with it. It was over some street (expletive.)” Snyder said no one else was with him and Holmes in police headquarters at the time.

    Monahan questioned whether Snyder told Holmes that he was being charged with homicide. Snyder testified that he didn’t speak with Holmes about the pending charges.

    When asked why Holmes would then say what he did, Snyder responded that he didn’t know.

    “He just said it,” Snyder testified.

    Easton police Lt. Matthew Gerould was the arresting officer in the Holmes case. He testified that he contacted Holmes in April 2010 to discuss possible threats made against him. The two spoke briefly the following day, and Gerould said he told Holmes he’d like to speak with him regarding the rumored threats and the 2009 fatal Easton Caf shooting.

    Gerould testified that Holmes was scheduled for a preliminary hearing in an unrelated case less than two weeks after speaking with him on the phone. Gerould said he arrived at the district judge’s office about 15 minutes before Holmes’ hearing and asked if he’d be willing to talk.

    Holmes reportedly agreed to speak briefly with the lieutenant in a conference room. In response to questioning by Houck, Gerould said the two spoke for less than 10 minutes and that Holmes was free to leave at any time.

    Holmes reportedly said that he had heard about the Easton Caf shooting, but that he had been at home all night. Gerould testified that Holmes acknowledged knowing Barndt but said he neither saw him, nor called him that night.

    In August 2017, Easton police set up surveillance at Holmes’ employer off Route 191 and took him into custody without incident.

    Gerould testified that he told the suspect that police had a warrant for his arrest and that he was being arrested for homicide. Holmes allegedly said he couldn’t believe that he was being arrested and that Gerould knew he didn’t do it.

    Gerould said Holmes wasn’t told he was being arrested for the Easton Caf shooting.

    The defense argued that any statements made by Holmes should be suppressed as a violation of his Miranda rights.

    The judge found that Holmes was not in custody during the brief April 2010 discussion with Gerould, nor was he told that he was a suspect in Aponte’s death, according to the judge’s ruling. Aponte was free to leave at any time as he stood next to an unsecured conference room door, while Gerould sat at a table, the judge found.

    As for the comment Holmes reportedly made to Gerould immediately following his arrest, the judge found that the suspect was in custody. But there is nothing prohibiting police from informing a suspect of the charges against, and Holmes was not being interrogated at the time, according to the ruling.

    And the judge found that any comments Holmes made to Snyder were not elicited by the detective who was merely processing the suspect.

    The defense asked for a change of venue, arguing local media coverage has been “sustained, pervasive and inflammatory,” making it difficult to seat a fair and impartial jury from Northampton County. Monahan in his motion cited several media reports and comments made by prosecutors to the press.

    While the defense highlighted the “most inflammatory portions” of the press coverage, the reporting has been “factual and objective in nature,” according to the judge.

    And while coverage included the guilty plea of Holmes’ co-defendant and his grand jury testimony implicating Holmes, no reports referenced any kind of confession attributed to Holmes, the judge wrote in his decision.

    Holmes’ trial is not a “truly extraordinary” case and his relationship to a former heavyweight boxing champ does not raise his status to that of a “public figure,” according to the ruling.

    Prosecutors filed notice to seek the death penalty based on two aggravating circumstances: that the shooting created a grave risk to others and that it was committed while perpetrating another felony, specifically carrying a firearm without a license.

    The judge ruled that prosecutors have provided some evidence that Holmes allegedly fired at Aponte, who was surrounded by at least five other patrons.

    The judge ruled on and denied a handful of other defense motions, including allowing the use of hearsay testimony during the preliminary hearing and whether prosecutors made their prima facie case allowing the matter to go on to county court.

    Last edited by Moh; 04-12-2018 at 04:19 AM. Reason: Spacing
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  3. #3
    Administrator Helen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    Trial date set in Easton death penalty case

    By Sarah M. Wojcik
    The Morning Call

    The man accused of a 2009 homicide in a crowded Easton bar will head to trial on Nov. 2, where he faces the death penalty if convicted.

    The trial date for Jacob Holmes Jr., charged in the killing of Michael Aponte Jr., was set following a lengthy conference where Northampton County President Judge Michael J. Koury Jr., Northampton County District Attorney Terry Houck and Holmes himself expressed exasperation for delays in the case.

    When a new mitigation specialist hired by the court for the defense predicted she could be ready for trial by October 2021, because of coronavirus-related delays, Holmes balked. The 39-year-old wore a red prison jumpsuit and medical-style mask and stood in front of a podium during a video call from the Northampton County Jail.

    Not at all. Im not sitting here for that long, Holmes said shaking his head. Thats crazy. Ill be here 4 years."

    Holmes, the nephew of boxing legend Larry Holmes, was charged in 2017 with the 2009 slaying. He considered forfeiting a jury trial and having Koury try the case instead a move that would have spared him the death penalty. But last year, he changed his mind and decided to move forward with the jury trial.

    Houck said the commonwealth also wanted an earlier trial date, but would comply with the November date as long as it remained firm.

    I dont want the goal posts constantly moved, Your Honor, Houck told Koury.

    The judge agreed. He warned Holmes defense counsel, Brian Monahan and Matthew Goodrich, that he wont stand for any more delays in the case, indicating earlier they were responsible for slowing the case.

    I am not going to continue it indefinitely," the judge said. "This case has been pending for some time. Mr. Holmes has been in jail for some time. He has a right to a speedy trial.

    Holmes is accused of gunning down Aponte on March 30, 2009, at the Easton Cafe on Northampton Street in downtown Easton. Authorities say Aponte, 24, was shot multiple times by a masked gunman who entered the crowded bar through a back door.

    The Northampton County district attorneys office is seeking the death penalty because the shooting put many lives in danger as bar patrons "inches" from the gunfire were forced to "dive for their live," according to Houck.

    It took years to crack the case open, in part because the brazen killing left many too frightened to come forward with what they knew, according to police. Holmes lived locally and was not on the run. Investigators said they persistently probed the crime and eventually received enough witness cooperation to begin putting together a case.

    Holmes was named as a suspect in the slaying in 2013, but wasn't charged until August 2017.

    Authorities say a second interview with the man who pleaded guilty to being the lookout for the shooting helped lead to the charges against Holmes. Franklin J. Barndt, who also helped dispose of the handgun, agreed to speak again with investigators in 2016 with new information.

    Barndt was offered no plea deals for his cooperation, authorities say. He was able to provide incriminating information about Holmes, identifying him as the man who tied a white T-shirt around his face just prior to the killing. Barndt said he saw Holmes knock on the bar door and fire the gun as Aponte crumpled to the floor.

    Authorities allege Apontes slaying was revenge for a 2006 killing outside a Wilson strip club, where Holmes was wounded and his friend Jason Oliver, 23, was killed.

    Apontes friend John Logan Jr. pleaded guilty to third-degree murder, and Aponte was initially also charged with homicide. But Aponte ended up admitting only to lesser charges, including weapons offenses.

    "I realize this may sound harsh, but as a father and former lawman, I really don't care if it's by lethal injection, by the electric chair, firing squad, hanging, the guillotine or being fed to the lions."
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