Jury selection started Monday morning in the case of a 28-year-old man who allegedly strangled his pregnant girlfriend inside a one-bedroom efficiency apartment near Chelten and Chew avenues in East Germantown.
Roysce “Yusef” Haynes is charged with first-degree murder in connection with the Sept. 2012 of Atiya Majah Perry.
Opening arguments in the case are expected to commence on Tuesday morning.
A gruesome discovery
The body of Perry, 24, was discovered by probation agents who went to an apartment in the 800 block of E. Chelten Ave. for a routine check on Sept. 10, 2012.
Investigators claimed the woman had been killed during an argument the day before.
At a preliminary hearing two months later, homicide Det. Edward Tolliver testified about an interview with Haynes after he was taken into custody.
“I didn’t mean to kill her,” Tolliver recounted of what the suspect allegedly told detectives, continuing that an argument about family interference in religious matters led her to an altercation during which Perry started “hitting me with a closed fist on the side of the head.
“She pulled out her pepper spray. That’s when I choked her. … I felt her go limp.”
According to Haynes’ statement, he unsuccessfully tried to resuscitate her. He did not call for medical assistance, however.
“I hate myself right now for what I’ve done,” Haynes said in the statement. “I can’t look at myself in the mirror.”
At that Dec. 2012 hearing, an abuse-of-corpse charge was dropped after the judge heard Haynes’ assertion that after killing his wife of two months, he cleaned her body and wrapped it in a sheet in accordance with Muslim pre-funeral custom.
Victim’s mother speaks
For her part, Atiya’s mother Patricia is pleased that the case will finally be heard in court.
“I’m so glad that the trial finally came, and am happy he didn’t take a [plea] deal,” Patricia Perry told NewsWorks. “I want him to get two life sentences. My heart is broken.”
A Facebook page dedicated to the memory of Atiya Perry contains remembrances and messages about domestic-violence awareness.
The agents were checking on Haynes in relation to a 2011 case in which he pleaded guilty to simple assault and was given 18 months probation, according to court records that stated aggravated assault and recklessly endangering another person charges were withdrawn.
Seven years earlier, he pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and was sentenced to up to 23 months incarceration and two years probation.