Families of Chesapeake murder victim, suspect, await sentencing phase of trial


CHEASAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) – A former Chesapeake security guard is now a convicted murderer. 

Johnathan Cromwell, 23, was found guilty of second-degree murder on Friday in the death of 60-year-old Jiansheng Chen, 

It took jurors roughly 11 hours to deliberate. Chen’s family did not want to comment after the verdict, only saying this “it’s a tragedy” and both families are hurting.

Cromwell was a security guard in the River Walk community when he shot Chen in 2017. Prosecutors argued Chen was playing the smartphone game Pokémon Go when he was killed.

The defense said Chen was a repeat trespasser and argued he used his vehicle as a weapon so Cromwell shot him in self-defense. Cromwell even took the stand earlier this week saying he feared for his life.

10 On Your Side spoke with his attorney, Andrew Sacks, outside the courthouse.

“I don’t think it would be appropriate for me to comment yet because the case is still underway but I intend to come back Monday morning and fight as hard as I can for Johnathan, just as I’ve been doing the last two weeks,” Sacks said.

Cromwell was initially charged with second-degree murder, but that was upgraded to first-degree murder several months later. Through their finding Friday, the jury believed the shooting was not premeditated.

Jurors focused on a surveillance video that caught audio of the shooting.

Chen’s family friend had mixed emotions following the verdict.

“If you’re asking me, I think he should go to first-degree. You can’t just kill people. That’s a life. That’s a life,” said Jenny Sung.

Cromwell’s family left the courthouse saying they won’t be making a statement until Monday.

Cromwell’s sentencing is scheduled to start Monday at 9 a.m. and he’s facing anywhere from 8 to 45 years in prison total for both charges.

Be sure to stay with WAVY News for the latest updates on this story.

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