Acting Essex County Prosecutor Robert D. Laurino announced today that David James Jackson, 27, of Newark has pleaded guilty to killing three people at a Newark social club.
Jackson admitted killing Cynthia Corbett, 46, Jessie Young, 44, and Yusef Muhammad, who was 48 when he died three years after the Sept. 27, 2005 shooting. All three of the victims were residents of Newark.
Earlier today Jackson entered a guilty plea. He said he had gone to SJMJ Democratic Social Club, a private social club in Newark, to gamble. He said he had been drinking and using drugs and became angry over losing money and shot four of the people at the club. Three died. A fourth survived his injuries.
The trial opened yesterday before the Honorable Michael A. Petrolle. After one day of testimony, Jackson agreed to a plea deal. Under the terms of the agreement, he pleaded guilty to three counts of aggravated manslaughter and will receive 28 years in state prison when he is sentenced in January. He must serve 85 percent of his sentence before he is eligible for parole.
“Obviously, nothing could bring back the three lives senselessly taken by this defendant but we decided a plea agreement was appropriate given all the facts in this case, ‘’ said Assistant Prosecutor Eileen O’Connor, who was trying the case.
O’Connor said one of the hurdles in the case was the fact that the Mr. Muhammad, one of the state’s key witnesses, died on the eve of a prior trial. That meant his statement and identification of the shooter could not be used at trial. It also required the state to re-indict the case and that caused delays.
Acting Prosecutor Laurino, after weighing the proofs of the case, determined the plea was the most appropriate course of action.