Jury selection for the trial of former Palm Beach Gardens police officer Nouman Raja, who is charged in the fatal shooting of Corey Jones, is set to begin Feb. 22.
On Friday morning, Chief Assistant State Attorneys Adrienne Ellis and Brian Fernandes and Raja’s attorneys, who include Richard Lubin and Scott Richardson, agreed to the court date next year before Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Joseph Marx.
They set aside three weeks for the trial, including jury selection, where they will have a pool of 200 potential jurors. Raja did not appear in court Friday.
Outside the courtroom, Clinton Jones Sr., Jones’ father, said he and his family were happy to see the case moving along and know that “justice will prevail.”
“We’re looking forward to this being resolved and over with and getting justice for our son, Corey,” he said. “It’s a long journey, but we’re here for the long haul.”
Raja is charged with manslaughter by culpable negligence and attempted murder with a firearm in the Oct. 18, 2015, fatal shooting of Jones. The 31-year-old drummer was on the phone with roadside assistance after his car had broken down on an Interstate 95 off-ramp in Palm Beach Gardens.
Raja, who was in plain clothes and in an unmarked police van that night, drove the wrong way up the ramp to get to Jones. Raja asked Jones if he was good several times and then shot him three times, according to authorities.
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Last week, the 4th District Court of Appeal denied Raja’s “stand your ground” appeal.
In order to be granted "stand your ground" immunity, defendants must believe they are in imminent danger, be in a place they have the right to be and are not taking part in a criminal act, according to Florida law.
Raja told authorities identified himself as a police officer and fired his weapon after Jones pointed a gun at him. Jones had a gun, but it was found yards away from where his body came to a final rest after the shooting, according to investigators. Prosecutors argued that a recording of Jones's call with roadside assistance captured the entire exchange between Jones and Raja at that it shows Raja never identified himself and shot Jones unprovoked.
Raja’s lawyers appealed to the 4th DCA after Raja’s “stand your ground” immunity was denied by Circuit Judge Samantha Schosberg Feuer. In her 27-page ruling in June, Schosberg Feuer wrote:
"The manner in which Defendant approached Jones — in the middle of the night, driving the wrong way up the ramp, in a white unmarked van, parking head-on diagonal to Jones' vehicle just feet away, jumping out of his vehicle, in plain clothes, with his firearm drawn with no indication he was a police officer — would not afford an ordinary citizen Stand Your Ground immunity."