An Egg Harbor City man accused in two Atlantic County killings will first have to face a jury on federal drug charges.

Rafael Olmo, 29, is accused of setting up the October 2010 killing of Deanna Downs, a 29-year-old Egg Harbor City mother the state claims was targeted because she identified Olmo as the killer in a previous shooting for which he faces weapons charges.

Then that December, Olmo allegedly killed Leandro Rodriguez, 36, of Hackensack, during what has been described as a “drug rip-off” outside an unoccupied Galloway Township residence.

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But first, Olmo will go on trial on federal drug charges pertaining to two incidents in December 2010, about two weeks after Rodriguez was killed.

All motions must be filed in that case by Sept. 21, with a hearing set for Oct. 12 before a federal judge in Camden. Trial is set for Oct. 22, according to court filings.

Olmo has been in federal custody and has not attended previous Atlantic County Superior Court hearings in the Downs killing. A status conference had been scheduled for Tuesday, but that was canceled after motions were filed in the case.

In that case, Olmo is accused of hiring two men to kill Downs, who gave investigators a statement saying she saw Olmo running from an Oct. 12, 2009 shooting at a party in the Harbor City Apartments, where Downs lived with her two sons.

Sandy Thomas, 30, was killed in the shooting, and his cousin was wounded. A year later, Downs was found fatally shot at the same complex.

Marco Adams, 29, and Dontay Matthews, 22, were accused of carrying out the alleged hit. Matthews pleaded guilty. Adams was in court last month on a hearing about whether a statement he gave police was admissible as evidence. Superior Court Judge Kyran Connor ruled it was properly obtained. What was given in that statement was not revealed in court. He is accused of shooting Downs in the face.

Olmo’s attorney, Stephen Funk, filed a motion that would keep the jury from hearing about the 2009 incident. A hearing date on that motion has not yet been scheduled.

Contact Lynda Cohen:

609-272-7257

Follow Lynda Cohen on Twitter @LyndaCohen

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