Trial begins for Chesapeake security guard charged with murder, scheduled to last two weeks

CHESAPEAKE, Va. – A long-anticipated trial is finally in front of a judge and jury this week in Chesapeake.

Johnathan Cromwell was charged with second degree murder and use of a firearm in the commission of a murder.

23-year-old Johnathan Cromwell is charged with murder and using a gun to commit murder from a shooting incident that happened back on January 26, 2017, in the Riverwalk community.

It was late that evening when police report Cromwell, 21 at the time, shot and killed 60-year-old Jiansheng Chen.

Cromwell was working as a security guard at the time for Citywide Protection Services, LLC, and was armed when he was on duty that night, patrolling the Riverwalk Clubhouse area.

Cromwell's defense attorney Andrew Sacks said his client shot at Chen because the man was driving his car towards Cromwell.

Prosecutors have maintained that Cromwell used excessive and deadly force, firing at least seven shots at the unarmed man who was allegedly playing Pokémon Go that night in the Clubhouse area.

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In a courtroom on Tuesday, Judge John Brown said it may take a day or more to seat a jury in this trial. There have been 70 jurors called in and only 12 will decide the case, but there will also be two alternates.

The Commonwealth’s Attorney, D.J. Hanson, announced to the jury that he plans to call 24 witnesses. Sacks, said he may call as many as 30.

Sacks previously made a motion to move the case to another jurisdiction, but that was denied. There is also an ongoing civil suit from those overseers of Chen’s estate who have sued Cromwell for wrongful death, asking for $5,350,000 in damages and fees.

On Wednesday, the 12-person jury was selected, with two people selected as alternates. Opening statements will start at 9 a.m. Thursday morning.

The trial is scheduled to last two weeks.

Stay with News 3 as we follow this story throughout its entirety.

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