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Long IslandCrime

Man indicted in Dejah Joyner’s shooting death, prosecutor says

Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

A grand jury has indicted a Hempstead man on a felony charge in the shooting death of 12-year-old Dejah Joyner, a Nassau prosecutor said Friday.

Police on Sunday arrested Jakwan Keller, 20, on murder and weapon charges in a slaying that happened in October as the victim was eating dinner inside her family’s Hempstead home.

“The defendant has been indicted on at least one felony,” Assistant District Attorney Lauren Nickerson told a judge during Keller’s brief court appearance Friday in Mineola.

Keller’s attorney, Bruce Barket, then asked for any evidence that would be helpful to the defense’s case to be turned over immediately.

“Our understanding is that there’s evidence that exists that somebody else was involved in the shooting,” he said after court.

Barket also said he had heard of information suggesting the shooting wasn’t a drive-by attack, as he said authorities are alleging, and that there have been other shootings at the same Dartmouth Street house.

“All of that information, regardless of whether or not the police think it’s accurate or not, needs to be turned over to us very quickly,” the Garden City lawyer said, adding that Keller “had absolutely nothing to do with the death of this young girl.”

Members of Dejah’s family left court without commenting.

A man who identified himself as Keller’s father told reporters outside the courtroom that he had told his son inside that he loved him. But the man declined to comment on the case.

As correction officers later led Keller to a transport van under heavy security, the defendant shook his head no when a journalist asked if he had committed the shooting.

The certification of the indictment on at least one felony allows authorities to hold Keller for another 45 days, according to the defense, which expects the defendant to be arraigned before his next scheduled court date, which is Feb. 2.

Whatever charge Keller was indicted on wasn’t made public Friday, and he could be indicted on additional offenses.

The announcement of an indictment came after the defense had demanded that, by law, Keller should be released by Friday if there was no indictment or finding of probable cause at a felony hearing.

The Nassau County district attorney’s office declined to comment on Friday.

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