A Virginia security guard could spend up to 30 years behind bars for the second-degree murder of 60-year-old Jiansheng Chen, who had been playing Pokémon Go before he was fatally shot in 2017.
The Chesapeake Circuit Court found Johnathan Cromwell, 23, guilty of second-degree murder on Friday. The security guard had fired at Chen, who was parked about a mile from his home and was playing the popular mobile game. The attorney for Chen’s family said that Chen, a Chinese immigrant, had started playing the digital game as a means to connect with his grandchildren, nieces, and nephews.
During Monday’s hearing, jurors recommended Cromwell serve 30 years in prison, The Virginian-Pilot reported.
Nancy Parr, the Commonwealth’s attorney, told the outlet Monday that “the commonwealth believes, very strongly, that justice was served today in Chesapeake,” after claiming the jurors believed Cromwell “maliciously murdered” Chen.
“We can now tell Mr. Chen, justice has been served,” Yuchong Shen, president of the Organization of Chinese Americans, Eastern Virginia Chapter, said in the courtroom following the sentencing recommendation. “He can now rest peacefully.”
Cromwell had shot Chen five times with a semi-automatic gun. The security guard claimed he’d shot Chen, who Cromwell claimed was trespassing, in self-defense.
“Mr. Cromwell confronted Mr. Chen by stopping his vehicle directly in front of Mr. Chen’s,” Parr said in a statement. “Mr. Chen backed up and turned his vehicle around … Mr. Cromwell had exited his car and did say ‘stop’ before he fired his weapon.”
The security guard said he “kept shooting until the vehicle stopped,” according to WAVY.
While Cromwell was found guilty, Scott Flax, an attorney for Chen’s family said “no verdict will ever bring back Mr. Chen, and that’s the hard part about any of this case.”
“In the end they’ve lost their uncle, they’ve lost someone they love — they lost their father,” he told reporters.
The security guard’s defense attorney, Andrew Sacks, said he plans to appeal the ruling.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misstated the jury’s recommended sentence as 20 years in prison.