TRENTON, N.J. (CBS) –– A three judge appeals panel in New Jersey has ordered a new trial for a former Deptford police officer convicted of both murder and aggravated manslaughter in the death of a friend over four years ago.
In a 43 page opinion, the panel found that the jury that convicted James Stuart in the fatal shooting of David Compton in Stuart’s home was improperly instructed. Quoting now, “It is clear to us that the guilty verdicts on murder and aggravated manslaughter were inconsistent.”
Bottom line, the lesser charge could only be considered if they had acquitted him of murder, since each crime requires a specific mental state. A new trial has been ordered on both counts.
Stuart is serving a 30 year jail term on the 2015 conviction.
The appeal was filed by the state Public Defender’s office.
The Gloucester County Prosecutor’s office issued a statement that says the office is “studying the decision to determine whether it raises issues appropriately placed before the New Jersey Supreme Court. Barring that, the GCPO will prepare to prosecute this case again.”