MAYS LANDING — As the forewoman read the guilty verdict for Demetris Cross, a woman sitting behind him stomped her feet, her sobs crescendoing into a wail.
Several people helped her leave the courtroom, physically supporting her as she cried, while the verdict was still being read. One of them stepped back in and shouted, “The law is not equal!”
After three days of deliberations, Cross, 30, of Bridgeton, and Martel D. Chisolm, 31, of Millville, were found guilty of attempted murder Friday in the September 2016 shooting of former Atlantic City police Officer Josh Vadell.
“I’m satisfied with the verdict,” Vadell said outside the courthouse, his voice even. “On the other hand, I feel sadness for the family of the suspects, the defendants.”
“The conviction will be reversed,” said Robin Lord, Chisolm’s attorney, citing numerous errors in the trial, including in jury selection. “I’m confident that it will be reversed.”
Friday evening, Lord said she had filed a motion for a new trial on behalf of her client.
Chisolm and Cross were also found guilty of aggravated assault, robbery, obstruction, resisting arrest and conspiracy to commit aggravated assault and robbery. They were found not guilty of unlawful possession of a weapon, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, and conspiracy to commit and possess same.
Sentencing is set for Sept. 17 before Superior Court Judge John Rauh.
Both sides of the gallery were full Friday with supporters of the defendants as well as of Vadell.
Chief Assistant Prosecutor Seth Levy said it was nerve-wracking to wait for the verdict, but he was pleased with the outcome.
The charges stem from an early morning response to an armed robbery Sept. 3, 2016, when Vadell and his partner, now-Detective Thomas McCabe, pulled up in their patrol car to Arkansas Avenue in Atlantic City. Vadell was shot in the head and spent weeks in the hospital, underwent intense rehabilitation to relearn basic motor skills and retired from the Police Department at age 30 as a result of his wounds.
The shooter, Jerome Damon, 25, of Camden, fled after McCabe returned fire. Damon was found dead about a block and a half away, and McCabe was later cleared in Damon’s death.
The trial and deliberations lasted more than two weeks and included testimony from experts, the victims from the incident, as well as Vadell and McCabe.
Vadell, whose left side is now partially paralyzed from the shooting, testified his first thought after he learned he was shot was, “I’m going to die.”
The jury asked questions several times over the course of their deliberations. Friday morning, they asked for the definitions of “purposeful” and “knowingly,” two words dealing with accomplice liability.
The jury also requested to hear the recorded testimony of Ralph Gagliano, a forensic toxicologist, who said there was marijuana, alcohol and a toxic amount of PCP in Damon’s blood that night.
Chisolm and Cross could face as many as 20 years in state prison for each first-degree crime conviction and as many as 10 years in state prison for each second-degree crime conviction.