ELIZABETH – A teenager accused in the fatal shooing of a youth outside a Union Township skating rink after a Christmas party last December pleaded not guilty Monday before a Superior Court judge in Elizabeth.
Jaquan Bell, 17, could spend the rest of his life in prison if he is convicted of killing 16-year-old Jean D’haiti.
Several fights broke out inside Skate 22 last Christmas during a heavily promoted party that ended early after organizers ejected several unruly guests. Outside the rink, a group of Haitian youths chased a group of alleged Bloods gang members to the parking lot, authorities said. The prosecutor’s office has not said if D’haiti was involved in the chase.
Bell, who prosecutors say was being chased, allegedly turned and fired several shots while fleeing. One of those bullets fatally struck D’haiti, according to prosecutors.
Bell’s attorney, Michael Robbins, intends to try to have bail reduced from $400,000 to $150,000 and plans to file a motion to dismiss the case based on a medical examiner’s report that indicates D’haiti was shot in the back of the head.
“The laws of physics make it impossible for members of a pursued group to shoot the fatal shot,” Robbins said. “The fatal shot could not have come from the pursued group.”
Robbins said that he believes D’Haiti was shot by a member of his own group, adding that witnesses have reported seeing a Haitian male entering the skating rink with a semi-automatic gun – the type of weapon that delivered the fatal shot – shortly after the shooting.
“What occurred to D’haiti is a tragedy, but it did not occur at the hands of my client,” Robbins said.
Bell’s next scheduled court appearance is Nov. 16.
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