NewsLocal News

Actions

As many pray for justice, judge closes hearing of suspect in murder of young Richmond girl

Posted at 5:56 PM, Dec 28, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-28 17:56:26-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- Amiya Moses, age 12, was shot Saturday, Dec. 19, while visiting friends at an apartment complex. She was an innocent bystander who got caught in the crossfire.

Dwight Jackson and Shaquille Maxwell, both 20-years-old, were arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit murder. Richmond Police Chief Alfred Durham said the suspects' friends and family convinced the men to turn themselves in to police.

Maxwell was in court Monday at the same time family and friends gathered for Amiya’s funeral; to remember her vibrant laugh and love of dancing.

Amiya Moses (SOURCE: Family photo)

Amiya Moses (SOURCE: Family photo)

CBS 6 was in court Monday as Maxwell's attorneys made a surprising request.

The defense brought a motion to the judge asking him to exclude the media from today's hearing.

The judge obliged, and television and newspaper reporters were asked to leave.

The relatives of Maxwell walked out also.

There was no comment from his relatives, or his attorney, after court.

After his decision, the judge filed the order to close Maxwell’s hearing. The paperwork listed the reason as Maxwell's decision to waive his right to a public hearing.

Analyst explains judge's decision

The judge has the discretion to do so, but must have good cause, as required by a state law, according to CBS 6 Legal Analyst Todd Stone.

“The statute here which requires the judge to find good cause to close the case, I think requires something probably more than just ‘I give up my right to a public trial,” Stone said. “Because everybody would give up their right to a public trial and close the hearing if they could.”

Stone said he expects the move will raise some eyebrows, given how the tragedy hit the community hard, and because many are praying to see justice served for Amiya.

Christmas Eve memorial for slain youngster

On Christmas Eve, hundreds gathered at Henderson Middle School in Richmond for a vigil to remember Amiya.

Amiya's mother Kele Wright said the past week hasn't been easy for her family. She was supposed to be celebrating the holiday with her only daughter.

However, Wright found comfort in the community Thursday night, as many came to offer their prayers.

It's wonderful," said Wright, "I have all this support here, people who I don't even know, people who I've never seen before."

Amiya

Along with Amiya's friends and family, school and city leaders along with police also came to remember Amiya.

Wright said she wants her daughter's name to always be remembered, as well as continue to put a stop to senseless violence.

"Keep her name living and keep her name strong," Wright said to the group.

"I want her legacy to be that violence is not the key," she said. "The community needs to stand up and stop the violence, stop everything, you see something don’t be scared to go say something. Violence leads to people burying thier loved ones when it’s not their time,” she added.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help Wright and her family with funeral expenses for Amiya.

Wright said they had just celebrated Amiya's birthday on Dec. 3. She was a sixth grader at Henderson Middle School in Richmond. Her mother said she was loved by everyone and could light up a room.

"My baby was going to be in lights, she wanted to sing, she wanted to dance," Wright said.

Anyone with information is urged to call Major Crimes Detective Gary Bailey at 804-646-6743 or Crime Stoppers at 804-780-1000. You can also text Crime Stoppers at 274637, using the key word “ITip” followed by your tip. Both Crime Stoppers methods are anonymous.

***Editor's note: The Richmond Police Department has not provided current mugshots of the two suspects, as the investigation is ongoing.

Stay with WTVR.com and CBS 6 News for updates on this important local story.