The convicted enforcer for an allegedly dangerous Atlantic City drug gang got into more trouble Tuesday when a judge accused him of threatening his lawyer.
Malik Derry, now 26, is already serving life in prison for his part in Dirty Blok, a drug-trafficking gang that once ruled Atlantic City’s Stanley Holmes Village and surround neighborhoods.
But he still faces trial in the Feb. 10, 2013, killing of Tyquinn James, 25, who was shot and killed outside the Mecca Chicken in Atlantic City.
Derry and his older brother, convicted Dirty Blok leader Mykal, have been lodged in the Atlantic County Justice Facility, while they await trial in that case. They were in Atlantic County Superior Court separately Tuesday to allow them to be transferred back to federal custody so they can attend hearings in Camden appealing their convictions and another pending motion.
During his brief appearance before Judge Bernard DeLury, Malik Derry asked for a new attorney, saying he and the one the state appointed have “a conflict of interest” in how his defense progresses.
When pressed as to why he wanted a new attorney, Derry told the judge that he had warned attorney Murray Sufrin not to come to the jail to speak to him because he worried his actions could cause him problems in the jail.
When DeLury asked him what that meant, Derry said: “I don’t want to act like I can act.”
The judge then told Sufrin to make sure he reported what his client said to the Public Defender’s Office.
“I believe Mr. Malik Derry has said something that could be threatening to you,” DeLury said.
While the judge said Derry was “trying to be oblique” in not coming right out and threatening him, the message was clear.
Sufrin remains Derry’s attorney.
Malik and Mykal Derry also have apparently had problems with one another while in custody.
When it was 36-year-old Mykal’s turn to appear before the judge, defense attorney Ed Weinstock said the brothers had been in solitary since March 2 due to “a minor scuffle between the brothers Derry.”
It was supposed to be for only 15 days, but they were still in solitary 26 days later, Weinstock said.
The state had no problem with the judge making a request that the brothers be taken out of solitary, especially since Mykal Derry was not able to look over evidence his attorney provided as a result. But, the prosecutor pointed out, the measure was likely not necessary since the transfer to federal custody would be quick and change the circumstances of how they’re being held.
The case was given a June 20 date to check in on it, but is basically on hold until the federal issues are complete.
Video shown in the brothers’ federal trial shows James’ killing. A man, identified in the charges as Malik Derry, is shown biking by the Mecca Chicken when he raises his arm and shoots. James, who had been standing outside, falls to the ground as the man continues biking away.
At their first appearance in 2013, Malik Derry tried to get the charges against his older brother dropped.
He told now-retired Judge Michael Donio that his brother had nothing to do with the incident, and pulled out papers folded up that he described as an affidavit.
Donio told the then-21-year-old that he shouldn’t comment at all on the case at that time.
“I was just letting him go,” Malik Derry replied. “He’s got nothing to do with nothing.”