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Nouman Raja's attorneys fight for client's release at Wednesday court hearing

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Posted at 8:00 PM, May 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-29 18:14:02-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Attorneys for former Palm Beach Gardens police officer Nouman Raja want to get their client released from prison.

Raja's legal team appeared in Palm Beach County court Wednesday morning and asked Judge Joseph Marx to set a reasonable bond so Raja can be released from prison pending an appeal.

Last month, Judge Marx sentenced Raja to 25 years in prison for the deadly shooting of Corey Jones on Interstate 95 in 2015. Raja's attorneys filed an intent to appeal his conviction.

Members of Jones' family, along with Raja's wife, Karine, addressed Judge Marx on Wednesday in court. The judge said he'll made a decision on Raja's bond by Friday.

Corey Jones' stepmother, Kattie Jones, read a statement to the judge. She said Raja was looking for any way to escape serving his sentence.

"To release him now would mean being an accessory to this crime," said Mrs. Jones.

The judge took offense to that comment and addressed it in open court.

"Mr. Jones, I just have to tell you that I'm very sorry for your loss, but I would be remiss not to say I'm a little taken aback by your comment that if I was to release Mr. Raja, I'm not saying I'm going to, that I'm somehow an accessory. I don't appreciate it," said Judge Marx.

Clinton Jones, Sr. said after the hearing that he and his family had no intention of offending the judge.

"For him to say he was offended, that's his feelings, that's his right, but you know, he has to be in my shoes, the way I feel, I lost my son," said Jones, Sr.

Judge Marx said the comment would not affect his ruling. He also heard from Raja's wife who pleaded with the judge to allow her husband to come home pending an appeal.

"The reason why we need him so desperately at home is because I have two small kids. I'm not a single mom," said Karine Raja.

Mrs. Raja also told the judge that she would be willing to surrender her passport and her kids' passports as a condition of her husband's post trial bond.

The judge will issue a written order with his decision.

According to the Florida Department of Corrections, Raja is currently in state custody at the South Florida Reception Center in Doral.

The Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office said Jones' vehicle had broken down on an I-95 off-ramp on Oct. 18, 2015.

Raja, who was an on-duty police officer at the time, approached Jones’ vehicle in an unmarked van. He was dressed in plainclothes, but never identified himself as an officer.

Prosecutors said Raja acted so aggressively, Jones must have thought he was about to be carjacked or killed. That caused Jones, who had a valid concealed weapons permit, to pull out his .38-caliber handgun and run.

Raja fired several shots, killing Jones, according to the State Attorney's Office.

Raja told FBI investigators Jones pulled a gun on him, and that's why he opened fire. The FBI said Jones' weapon was never discharged.

As part of their appeal, Raja's attorneys are expected to argue several issues including:

  • Failure to instruct the jury on justifiable use of deadly force by a law enforcement officer
  • Insufficient evidence of attempted first-degree murder
  • Lack of proof of an essential element of manslaughter by culpable negligence