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The D.C. Court of Appeals has ordered a new trial for a man who was convicted of killing the son of a Bulgarian diplomat in 1997. Maurice Sykes was sentenced to 30 years to life for his role in the 1995 murder-robbery, but in a March 9 opinion written by Judge Inez Smith Reid, the court found that “there was a reasonable probability that the outcome would have been different had the defense been able to present at trial one or both of the witnesses whose grand jury testimony rebutted that of a key government witness.” Two other men were also convicted for their roles in the crime. Two days before the trial began, the government revealed that two grand jury witnesses denied seeing the defendant on the night of the murder — directly contradicting the statement of one of the government’s key witnesses. After the government’s disclosure, neither the prosecutor, Mary Incontro, nor the defense was able to locate either of the witnesses to testify at trial. Incontro, who has since retired, could not be reached for comment. Channing Phillips, chief of staff to the U.S. attorney in Washington, declined to comment on the Sykes case, saying that the Appellate Division is still reviewing the decision. Sykes’ attorney, Bruce Johnson Jr., did not return calls for comment.
Bethany Broida can be contacted at [email protected].

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