VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WVEC) -- Defense attorneys for the security guard, charged in the so-called Pokemon Go shooting, want to introduce evidence that alleges the victim previously tried to hit a man with his car in 2015.
22-year-old Johnathan Cromwell is charged with first degree murder in the January shooting death of 60-year-old Jiansheng Chen. Cromwell was patrolling the River Walk neighborhood when he encountered Chen in his van. Cromwell’s defense attorneys claim Chen tried to run Cromwell over so Cromwell shot him in self-defense.
According to court documents obtained by 13News Now, the defense wants to introduce evidence that Chen tried to hit a man, Steve Ray, with his car at a Virginia Beach marina in August or September 2015. The documents say the testimony will support Cromwell’s claim of self-defense.
A spokeswoman with Virginia Beach Police said an incident report could not be found without more information.
13News Now searched court records and Chen was not charged in that incident.
In circuit court Monday, Cromwell appeared and requested to change his attorney for the third time. Cromwell requested to replace public defender A. Robinson Winn with private criminal defense attorney Andrew Sacks.
“It’s a new arena now,” said Sacks. "It's a higher charge and I think sometimes another set of eyes and another approach in the case is often a good thing.”
Sacks currently defends Citywide Protection Services, the company that employed Cromwell during the time of the alleged shooting.
In court Monday, Lori Galbraith, Chief Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney raised objections to Sacks representing Cromwell. She said she was trying to “protect the future of the case” should a conflict arise between Cromwell and the security company.
“There isn't any conflict of interest,” said Sacks. “They believe in their employee 100%. They backed him from the beginning, they didn't think he did anything wrong then, they don't think he's done anything wrong now.”
The judge said he had concerns that if a conflict did arise, the trial would be interrupted. However, he granted Cromwell’s request for Sacks to represent him at trial. A new trial date has been set for March 8. It is expected to last five days.
The defense has also filed several motions, asking to introduce a ballistics expert and change the venue of the trial. Those motions will be heard by a judge September 29.
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