Reason Roundup

Cops Find Suspected Murder Weapon After Years of Searching. It Was in Their Evidence Already.

Plus: Judge rejects partisan gerrymander in New York, student loan debt debate heats up again, and more...


A judge has dismissed murder charges against a man accused of killing a Cincinnati teen after revelations of extreme bungling by local police. After spending more than two years looking for the murder weapon they said would tie Delrico Peoples to the 2019 crime, Cincinnati cops think they've found it—in their own evidence.

On Monday, during jury selection for the case, Hamilton County Assistant Prosecutor Jeff Heile told prospective jurors the murder weapon had never been found. But that same day, "the lead Cincinnati police detective found a gun believed to be the murder weapon as he was going through the evidence," reports The Enquirer. "Cincinnati police have had the gun since 2019, but never had it thoroughly tested to see if it matched shell casings found in Peoples' car or at the shooting scene."

After actually analyzing the gun, police think they've now found their murder weapon. It was seized from another man back in 2019, four months after a stray bullet killed 18-year-old Brandon Phoenix as he waited at a bus stop. At that point, Peoples had already been charged with murder and felonious assault and was in jail.

Testing the gun back then could have helped catch a killer earlier—and saved Peoples from years of prosecution for a crime he may not have committed.

Peoples has admitted to driving the car during the shooting but says he didn't know the man in the back seat who fired the gunshots and didn't know the man was going to do so. Peoples "had no knowledge of why his passenger began shooting, or the identity of his passenger," according to court documents.

Prosecutors asked Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Melba Marsh to delay Peoples' trial as they sorted out their evidence problems. But the judge said no—Peoples has the presumption of innocence on his side and had already been waiting more than two years for a trial.

"I can't justify holding him for a longer period of time, so the State of Ohio can do tests that take four to six weeks," Marsh said. "That's just not going to happen."

The charges were dismissed without prejudice, which means that prosecutors are allowed to refile them in the future if they deem it necessary.


Judge rejects partisan gerrymander in New York. Democrats frequently accuse Republicans of partisan gerrymandering of election districts—even though they aren't above doing the same thing themselves. Now, New York's highest court has "blocked the state's Democratic-drawn congressional map Wednesday, concluding that the new boundaries represented a partisan gerrymander that violates the state constitution," CNN reports. "The court ruled that a new map must be created for the 2022 election. New York's primary election is scheduled for June 28, but the judges wrote it will 'likely be necessary' to move the congressional elections to August."


Student loan debt debate heats up again. The White House is signaling that it may be ready to forgive student loan debt. Meanwhile, Republicans have introduced a bill—the Stop Reckless Student Loan Actions Act —to stop this from happening.

The legislation "would end President Biden's untargeted, budget-busting suspension of repayments on qualifying federal student loans, following 24 months of non-payment and six executive actions extending the payment pause," explains a press release from Sen. Bill Cassidy (R–La.). "The bill would still allow the president to temporarily suspend repayment for low- and middle-income borrowers in future national emergencies and would prohibit the president from cancelling outstanding federal student loan obligations due to a national emergency."

Charles C.W. Cooke thinks this doesn't go far enough and Republicans should end the federal student loan program entirely. "Given the obvious political temptations that program was always going to create, the federal government should never have gotten into the student-loan business in the first place," Cooke writes in National Review:

But it did, and so here we are. If President Biden goes through with his threat, we will have been shown once and for all that the government cannot be trusted to issue these loans on behalf of America's taxpayers, and that it must not be allowed to do so again. In 2010, Congress authorized a loan program, not a system of politically motivated rolling jubilees. If the program becomes that — as it would under Biden's loan-forgiveness scheme — it must be killed. Such a repeal would not only inoculate Americans against this happening again, it would help to limit the government-created increases in tuition that, paradoxically, are being used to justify further federal action.


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• Thomas Raynard James spent 31 years in prison on a wrongful conviction of murder.