Jurors ended their first day of deliberations without a verdict in an alleged 2016 armed robbery that ended with an Atlantic City police officer shot in the head.
Martel Chisolm and Demetris Cross are charged with attempted murder, armed robbery and other offenses in the Sept. 3, 2016, incident that allegedly began with Jerome Damon holding a gun to three teens on an Atlantic City street.
Damon shot Officer Josh Vadell as he got out of his patrol car, all sides agree.
He then was killed when Officer Thomas McCabe returned fire.
How involved Chisolm and Cross were in the original armed robbery is now for a jury to decide.
Less than 90 minutes into deliberations, the jury had questions and requested video of some evidence be replayed, including a compilation from various surveillance cameras in the city.
They also wanted to rehear testimony of a gun expert and the detective who interviewed the two teen victims from that night. A third teen, K’vaun Wyatt, was killed in a shooting eight weeks later.
Later, the jurors asked if one person has a handgun if it’s as if all possessed a weapon.
In clarifying that, Superior Court Judge John Rauh read from the charge. It basically said that a person doesn’t have to be in possession of the gun, but has to know about it and to have possessed it at one time.
After lunch, jurors were brought in one by one and questioned by Rauh and counsel in sidebar. It was not clear what was asked, but after the jurors were out of the room, Rauh cautioned those in the gallery to be careful about any interaction with jurors — even small — that could cause it to appear inappropriate.
“I’m not scolding in any way,” Rauh said.
Deliberations began Wednesday morning, a day after jurors heard hours of closing arguments and jury instruction.
Chief Assistant Prosecutor Seth Levy told the jurors that the two Cumberland County men were just as culpable as Damon for what happened because they were in on the armed robbery of three teens that morning.
But the defense contends the two men didn’t even know Damon had a gun, and that only he was responsible.
Chisolm’s attorney, Robin Lord, questioned whether Damon even had a gun, pointing to the criminal histories of the three teens — including one who was fatally shot eight weeks after the incident.
One of them may have had the gun and it was taken by Damon, Lord said as she presented 22 doubts she said the case is “riddled with.”
Any one of them, Lord said, would be reason alone to find the defendants not guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.