An attorney for Matthew J. White, who stands accused of murdering a trans woman’s boyfriend, told a judge this week that she wants the case against White dismissed because exculpatory evidence was improperly withheld.
White, 34, allegedly shot and killed Barry Jones in West Philadelphia on Jan. 9, 2017. White’s murder trial was scheduled to begin Aug. 1. Fifteen jurors, including three alternates, were selected on July 31. Later that evening, prosecutor Danielle M. Burkavage emailed evidence relating to the case to defense attorney Eileen J. Hurley.
On Aug. 1, before jurors could be sworn in and opening arguments delivered, Hurley told Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge J. Scott O’Keefe she would be filing a motion for dismissal of the case.
Hurley said newly released evidence raises the possibility that a person named Michael Attaway — not her client — is the killer. Attaway wasn’t in the courtroom and couldn’t be reached for comment.
The defendant's attorney said the evidence relates to witness identifications that have the potential of exonerating her client. She added that she wasn’t accusing Burkavage of any wrongdoing by not providing the evidence to her sooner.
For her part, Burkavage told the judge she provided the evidence to Hurley as soon as she received it from police. “I want to make sure everything I know, Ms. Hurley knows,” Burkavage told O’Keefe.
The judge said he’ll consider Hurley’s motion for dismissal at 9:15 a.m. Aug. 3 in Room 907 of the Criminal Justice Center, 1315 Filbert St., in Center City. Meanwhile, the jurors have been permanently removed from the case, O'Keefe said.
On Jan. 8, 2017, the night before Jones was murdered, White allegedly burglarized the West Philadelphia residence of three trans women. The women were in court Aug. 1 and prepared to testify before the trial was suspended.
Vivian Royster, a trans woman who was Jones’ girlfriend, was scheduled to testify on Aug. 2.
White is accused of murder, aggravated assault, burglary, reckless endangerment, possessing an instrument of a crime and related offenses. He faces life imprisonment if convicted of all charges.
Outside the courtroom, Hurley said she’d advocate “zealously” for White.
“This is a search for the truth,” she told PGN. “My client has always maintained his innocence. He maintains that he didn’t commit the shootings or the burglary.”
Burkavage said she’s prepared to litigate Hurley’s request for dismissal of the case. “The commonwealth will be prepared to litigate the defense’s motion to dismiss the charges,” she told PGN.