Twenty five years. That’s the prison sentence for a former South Florida police officer sentenced on Thursday for killing a stranded motorist.
Palm Beach County Judge Joseph Marx sentenced Nouman Raja to 25 years on each count of manslaughter and attempted first-degree murder – but the sentences will run concurrently.
Last month, Raja was convicted in the fatal shooting of Corey Jones. The man was stranded on the side of an Interstate 95 exit ramp in Palm Beach Gardens after his SUV broke down on April 18, 2015.
According to defense attorneys, the 41-year-old shot Jones in self-defense. Jones, a concealed weapons permit holder, pulled a gun.
But according to prosecutors, Raja instigated the confrontation because he never identified himself as a police officer, because he was working undercover with Palm Beach Gardens.
Jones, who was 31-years-old, believed that Raja was robbing him.
Raja, wearing a jail uniform and now with a beard, entered the courtroom for Thursday afternoon’s sentencing hearing with his head down. He teared up during his wife’s testimony.
Last week, Judge Marx denied a motion for a new trial. It was requested by Raja’s attorneys, who argued the “court erred in the decision of matters of law arising before and during the course of the trial” and “erroneously instructed the jury on matters of law and refused to give a proper instruction requested by the defendant.”
Raja was fired by the Palm Beach Gardens Police Department shortly after the shooting. He ended up receiving a lesser sentence than what the state and Jones’ family were asking for.
Judge Marx was asked in a letter written on behalf of Jones’ family by his uncle to hand down a life sentence.
Marc Johnson, the uncle, read the letter to the courtroom:
“He hunted down an innocent man and killed him,” Marc Johnson wrote, reading the letter aloud in court. “He ruined the lives of Corey Jones’ family, as well as his own. And still he shows not an ounce of remorse.”
Johnson requested Raja never have the “opportunity for parole” and should “spend the rest of his life trying to atone for his wrongdoing.”
“At least he will have the opportunity to apologize to his wife and children for deceiving them,” Johnson wrote. “At least he will have the opportunity to simply wake up everyday. Corey Jones will never have the opportunity to do anything ever again.”
Clinton Jones, the victim’s father, said he still keeps his son’s cellphone number in his phone for therapy.
Sheila Banks, his aunt, said Raja hasn’t expressed any remorse for the shooting. She was angered that he for leniency during his house arrest while awaiting trial and filing appeals.
Adnan Raja, the former-officer’s brother, is now a deputy with the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office. He told the judge he believes the state prosecuted his younger brother because his brother is white and the victim was black.
“But I just don’t feel this is right,” he said. “It’s politically motivated.”
He said his brother was a good officer, a proud American Muslim and a scapegoat for a racial storyline.
“Today he’s being labeled a murdered and a racist,” he said. “I just don’t feel right about it.”