CHESAPEAKE VA Feb 28 2017
A General District Court judge on Monday denied bond for a 21-year-old security guard charged with murder in the shooting death of 60-year-old Jiansheng Chen.
Johnathan Cromwell of Virginia Beach is charged with second-degree murder and use of a firearm in the Jan. 26 incident.
Cromwell's attorneys, Emily Munn and Lawrence Woodward, appealed the judge's decision and a hearing is scheduled on Friday.
Chen was in his van in the 700 block of River Walk Pkwy. when he was shot five times at about 11 p.m., according to police and prosecutors.
An attorney for Chen’s family has said he was playing “Pokemon Go” and spoke little English.
Speaking through a Mandarin interpreter in court Monday, Chen's brother testified that his family has been "in fear" since the shooting and that he worries for the safety of his children.
Outside of court, Cromwell's father, Ed Cromwell, said the family supports him "100 percent."
"We're standing behind him," he said, speaking publicly for the first time.
In arguing for bond, Munn said the Department of Criminal Justice Services cleared Cromwell in its investigation of the shooting.
Munn said that Citywide Protection Services, the security company, has supported Cromwell and that he acted in self-defense.
She argued he is not a flight risk, because he is a lifelong Hampton Roads resident with strong family ties to the area. If granted bond, he was going to live with his mother in Virginia Beach and work at an Advance Auto Parts, where his family found a job for him, the attorney said.
She also questioned why it took three weeks to charge Cromwell, suggesting prosecutors were under pressure from the community to bring charges.
Chief Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney Lori Galbraith said a "full and fair investigation was done."
She said that on Jan. 26, Cromwell took out his weapon, which had a flashlight on it, and fired through the driver's side window of Chen's van. She said Cromwell then moved to the front of the car and fired through the windshield seven times.
Several dozen supporters of Chen packed the courtroom Monday. Harry Zhang, president of the local chapter of the Organization of Chinese Americans, said the supporters were pleased that bond was denied.
"We definitely respect the court's decision," he said. "It's good for the community that he stays in custody."