Jury seated in trial of security guard accused of murder

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CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — The murder trial against a former Chesapeake security guard accused of shooting a man is underway.

Chesapeake police said Johnathan Cromwell shot and killed 60-year-old Jiansheng Chen in the River Walk Community in 2017. Cromwell was patrolling the area when he came across Chen in a parked van.

Cromwell’s defense has claimed he shot Chen because he thought Chen was going to kill him.

RELATED: Judge denies motion to move security guard’s murder trial

Chen’s family says he was in the area playing “Pokemon Go” when the shooting happened. His family filed a lawsuit last month against Cromwell, his employer Citywide Protection Services and the community.

The lawsuit claims Cromwell has a “dangerous, aggressive, erratic, careless and violent” nature with a known “propensity” for taking out or threatening to use in firarms in situations where it’s not warranted.

According to the suit, Cromwell and other guards employed by Citywide were carrying loaded guns on patrol — despite a contract between River Walk and Citywide that called for unarmed guards.

On Tuesday, 81 potential jurors were called in to seat a jury, far more than normal. 

VIDEO: Trial underway in Pokemon Go security guard murder case

Cromwell sat silently wearing headphones to help him hear as jurors were asked a series of questions.

Attorneys wanted to know how much media coverage they’ve seen.  Most say they knew about the case and several weren’t sure if they had already made up their minds if Cromwell was guilty based the coverage.

Prosecutors also wanted to find out if they’ve heard about Riverwalk or “Pokemon Go.”

Attorney Andrew Sacks has said from the start that he believes Cromwell acted in self defense, because it was Chen who tried to run Cromwell over.

Sacks wanted to move the trial to a different jurisdiction because he believes there is too much pre-trial coverage in the case.

The judge denied the motion saying although some might have seen coverage, very few of the jurors would be influenced by what they saw.

Out of the 81 jurors, 14 were excused Tuesday. The pool was cut down to 24 jurors Wednesday afternoon and then finally down to 14 total — 12 jurors and two alternates. 

Opening statements will begin first thing Thursday morning. The trial could go on for two weeks.

We’ll continue to follow this story on WAVY.com.

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