In a preliminary hearing on Tuesday, a Virginia judge ruled that there is enough evidence to proceed in the case against Cromwell, 22, for second-degree murder for the death of Jiansheng Chen, 60, according to The Virginian Pilot
On January 26, 2017, at around 11 p.m., Chen turned into the driveway of the River Walk Clubhouse parking lot in the 700 block of the River Walk Parkway. He had parked in the area because he was playing Pokémon Go and there was a gym located nearby.
Cromwell then stopped his vehicle in front of Chen’s van just as Chen was backing up to leave. Cromwell exited his car and said “stop” before firing, according to prosecutors.
Chen was shot five times, sustaining four wounds in his upper left chest and one in his upper left arm. He died on the scene.
Cromwell claims that he acted in self defense, and that Chen would have run him over if he didn’t open fire on the elderly man.
“I didn’t want to, but I had to,” Cromwell said during the hearing.
Cromwell’s attorney, Robin Winn, argued that Chen backed up his van and revved at his engine before driving towards his client. Cromwell allegedly told him to stop, tried to sidestep and couldn’t get out of the way, he said. Winn says that Cromwell did not have time to get out of the way and was forced to defend himself.
However, Detective Robert Hatchell, testified that he doesn’t think Cromwell’s defense adds up.
According to prosecutors, Cromwell shot the driver’s side window, then fired seven more times through the front window.
Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney D.J. Hansen believes Cromwell had enough room to get away if he felt threatened. He asserts there is no evidence that Chen continued to move his van towards Cromwell.
“The evidence here just does not support that,” Hansen said.
Supporters of Chen who attended the hearing say
they are confident that “justice will prevail.”