MAYS LANDING – After petitioning the New Jersey Supreme Court, ACPO Assistant Prosecutor Melinda Harrigan was granted a reversal and the reinstatement of a conviction in the matter of the STATE vs. Qushawn Jones, Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon G. Tyner announced.
In 2013, Quashawn K. Jones was indicted on a ten count indictment, which included two-counts of attempted-murder, aggravated assault, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, witness tampering, and certain persons not to have weapons. Jones was convicted by an Atlantic County jury in July 2015, of all the charges except first-degree witness tampering, where instead the jury returned a guilty verdict on the lesser offense of third-degree witness tampering. On appeal, the Appellate Division affirmed all of Jones’ convictions expect for one of the first-degree attempted murder charges where it reversed that conviction and the 15 year sentence imposed. The Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office and Assistant Prosecutor Melinda Harrigan petitioned the Supreme Court for certification, which was granted.
“This was a hard fought victory for victims and witnesses who are often the targets of threats and intimidation. AP Harrigan did an incredible job persuading our state Supreme Court that credible attempts on a person’s life can occur any many different ways. This conviction serves notice that the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office will always fight for the justice that victims and witnesses deserve,” said Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon G. Tyner.
Oral arguments in the case were heard in Trenton on January 6, 2020. On Wednesday, the New Jersey Supreme Court reversed the Appellate Division’s decision and reinstated Jones’ conviction for the second conviction of first-degree attempted murder, as well as the 15 year sentence.
“Today, the New Jersey Supreme Court delivered justice to the very brave victim in this case and I was honored to be able to take this case to our highest Court on her behalf,” Assistant Prosecutor Harrigan said.
This case stems from an incident on November 18, 2013 in Atlantic City where Jones pulled a gun on the victim and while she was on the ground, fired multiple shots into her body. The victim suffered a collapsed lung, a fractured clavicle, and a fractured humerus. Jones was apprehended shortly after the incident and was lodged in the Atlantic County Justice Facility awaiting trial. While incarcerated, Jones contacted his girlfriend and cousin in numerous phone calls from jail– calls that were recorded. During the calls, Jones can be heard directing his girlfriend and cousin to help him facilitate the murder of the victim so that she could not testify against him at his trial.
The two first-degree attempted murder convictions delivered by this jury was two-fold.: one for the actual shooting of the victim – which she survived, and the second was for Jones’ subsequent attempt on the victim’s life – from inside the jail.
On appeal, the Appellate Division reversed the second conviction for attempted murder, holding that the State did not have enough evidence to support the second conviction for attempted-murder related to the jail calls.
“…when defendant’s statements on the recorded conversations are considered in the context of this case, the State presented sufficient evidence for the jury to find a substantial step for attempted murder.” Justice Timpone, writing for the Court was joined by the other Justices in a unanimous decision.
Anyone with information involving serious crimes is asked to call the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office at 609-909-7800 or go to the Prosecutor’s Office Web site at http://www.acpo.org/tips.html and provide information by filling out the form anonymously on the Submit a Tip page. People can also call Crime Stoppers at 609-652-1234 or 1-800-658-8477 (TIPS) or visit the Crime Stoppers Website at http://www.crimestoppersatlantic.com/. Crime Stoppers offers cash rewards for information leading to the arrest and indictment of those who commit crimes in Atlantic County.