A defense attorney hired as a prosecutor raises issues in case i - WDRB 41 Louisville News

A defense attorney hired as a prosecutor raises issues in case involving murder of 16-month-old

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Ne'riah Miller (source: family photo) Ne'riah Miller (source: family photo)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- One of the five men charged with the shooting of Cierra Twyman and the murder of her 16-month-old daughter, Ne'Riah Miller, in 2014, has asked a judge to disqualify the Jefferson Commonwealth's Attorney's office and a key witness from the case.

The request comes after a defense attorney for one of the five men was recently hired by Commonwealth's Attorney Tom Wine as a prosecutor.

Longtime defense attorney Scott Drabenstadt will start as an assistant commonwealth's attorney on Feb. 16. Drabenstadt represents Trey Anderson, who in April pleaded guilty to criminal facilitation to murder and wanton endangerment, among other charges.

As part of his plea, Anderson will be sentenced to five years in prison and must cooperate in the prosecution of his co-defendants.

But attorney J. Bart McMahon, who represents Duwan Mason, filed a motion on Tuesday asking Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Audra Eckerle to disqualify Wine's office and strike Anderson as a witness.

"Having a co-defendant's attorney switch teams during the pretrial process prejudices Mr. Mason," McMahon wrote in the motion, adding that there is no way to determine what information Anderson provided to Drabenstadt, whether it was true and what prosecutors learned.

In addition, the "mere appearance that the Commonwealth has an advantage because a co-defendant's attorney has accepted a position and will be an assistant Commonwealth's Attorney when this matter is scheduled to go to trial" would "taint" any conviction, McMahon wrote.

Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Ryane Conroy, who is prosecuting the case, did not immediately return a phone message. Drabenstadt also could not be immediately reached. 

The motion will be heard on Feb. 6.

Sixteen-month-old Ne'riah Miller was shot in her mother's arms on the porch of a west Louisville home in August 2014.

Anderson, the alleged getaway driver, told police the men with him were "happy" right after the shooting, with the shooter excitedly describing how he ran onto Twyman's porch and started firing.

Witnesses said that several men began yelling at a group of people hanging out in front of a neighboring apartment building before shooting at the group. They estimated around 20 shots were fired. One of the men then ran up onto Twyman's porch and began firing within a few feet of Twyman and her child, according to witness statements in the court records.

In an interview with police, Twyman said she saw the group of men yelling at another group of men in front of the house just before they began shooting at them.

Twyman told police she then grabbed her child and dove behind a small wall on her porch as shots rang out. She said the next thing she saw was a man standing on her porch next to her shooting, hitting Twyman in the stomach, according to a summary of her interview with police.

Twyman said she did not know her daughter had been hit until someone told her the 1-year-old had died a few hours later. Ne'riah died of a gunshot wound to the torso.

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