Jury reduces murder charge in Hopewell case

Article from the Progress Index (opens in new window)

After an all day trial, a Hopewell jury agreed with the defense's theory of the case, and reduced the charges and sentenced the defendant to ten years.

Joseph Crews stood charged with first degree murder for the December 2014 death of Treon Ellis. Mr. Crews did not deny to the jury that he had shot Mr. Ellis, but explained the circumstances of the death as an attempted robbery by Mr. Ellis where Mr. Crews defended himself, albeit too violently.

Matt Stewart, attorney for Mr. Crews, asked the jury to reduce the charges from first degree murder, which was not appropriate given the circumstances of the case. In the end, the jury agreed that the evidence in this case supported the story told by Mr. Crews, and reduced the charge to second degree murder. He also was convicted for the use of the firearm in the commission of the crime.

At the sentencing phase, the Commonwealth asked for the maximum punishment, which was 40 years for second degree murder and three years for use of a firearm, or 43 years total. After Mr. Crews had admitted his wrongdoing in going too far in his own defense and expressed his remorse to the jury, Mr. Stewart asked the jury to to sentence Mr. Crews to far less - seven years for second degree murder and three years for the use of a firearm.

After deliberation, the jury followed the recommendation of Mr. Stewart, sentencing Mr. Crews to a total of ten years - seven for second degree murder, and three for use of a firearm. The minimum sentence for second degree murder is five years, and the minimum sentence for use of a firearm is three years.