Public Safety

One of the defendants charged in Iowa City homicide will be tried separately, judge rules

Iowa City police were called to 1960 Broadway St. on Monday, April 20, 2020, for a report of a person who had been shot.
Iowa City police were called to 1960 Broadway St. on Monday, April 20, 2020, for a report of a person who had been shot. Kejuan Winters, 21, of Iowa City, suffered multiple gunshot wounds and died later of his injuries. (Lee Hermiston/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — One of the three men charged with killing a man during a robbery in April will have a separate trial because one of the defendants made incriminating statements against him, which would violate his rights in a joint trial.

Sixth Judicial District Judge Lars Anderson, in his ruling Monday, said Reginald Little, 44, would be implicated in statements made to police by Durojaiya A. Rosa, 22, of Iowa City. Rosa told police he and Little planned to rob Kejuan Winters, 21, of Iowa City, on April 20.

Little and Rosa were jointly charged with first-degree murder, along with another man, Patrick Bland, 32, of Rockford, Ill.

The prosecution said there were four statements from Rosa that law enforcement would testify about, and the “proposed” testimony doesn’t mention Little’s name, according to the ruling. Authorities would testify that Rosa first denied being involved in the robbery but then admitted he planned to rob Winters and he involved “others” in those plans.

But comparing the testimony to investigators’ second interview with Rosa, “it is clear that testimony is an altered version” of what Rosa said, Anderson said in the ruling. The police report indicates Rosa specifically told them he was involved with Little in a plan to rob Winters.

Little argued that testimony would implicate him in Winters’ death and violate his constitutional rights, according to the ruling. If Rosa doesn’t testify at trial, Little couldn’t cross examine, and he’s being tried with Rosa, so the jury would know he is one of the “others.”

Anderson, in the ruling, said even if Little wouldn’t be named he would still be implicated in this case. Only three have been charged and they are the only suspects to be considered.

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Using “other” also creates another problem because Rosa, in his statements to police, didn’t directly implicate Bland, so it would be logical that Bland’s attorney would cross examine police to clarify that fact, Anderson said. And that testimony would point the finger at Little.

Anderson concluded that Little should be tried separately and a new trial date will be set.

other charges

Police responded about 9:55 a.m. April 20 to 1960 Broadway St. in Iowa City for a report of a shooting, according to criminal complaints. Officers found Winters with multiple gunshot wounds. He died inside the apartment.

Also at the scene were Rosa and a woman. They gave police a description of the shooter and said they heard him fighting with Winters before hearing gunshots.

The investigation revealed Rosa and Little plotted to rob Winters in the apartment, according to the complaints. Rosa said they did not intend to kill Winters.

Police said Bland also was there and was the “principal” in the fatal shooting. Bland’s gun, which he possessed illegally, was used in the shooting and his cellphone was found at the scene, police said.

Both Little and Bland left the state. Little was arrested in Texas and Bland was arrested in Minneapolis. Both have been extradited to Iowa.

In addition to the murder arrests, Winters’ father, Tyris D. Winters, 41, of Peoria, Ill., and Tony M. Watkins, 39, of Iowa City, were arrested on attempted murder charges after confronting another person later about Winters’ death and shooting that person in the head and foot, police said.

Police also arrested Jordan R. Hogan, 21, of Iowa City, on a charge of obstructing prosecution, saying he helped Little avoid arrest, and Whitney Claybon, 30, of Iowa City, also for obstruction of prosecution and being an accessory after the fact.

Comments: (319) 398-8318; trish.mehaffey@thegazette.com

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