TOMS RIVER, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Jury selection is set to start today in the murder trial of a man charged with gunning down a Lakewood police officer as he sat in his police cruiser last year.
Ocean County prosecutors say 20-year-old Jahmell Crockam shot patrolman Christopher Matlosz after the officer drove up alongside him on August Drive last January.
As he was dying in the driver’s seat Matlosz was in communication with dispatch. Help arrived quickly but not quickly enough and he was pronounced dead at Jersey Shore University Medical Center.
Crockam has pleaded not guilty, and his lawyer says he looks forward to his day in court.
Opening statements are not expected until late January or early February.
If convicted, Crockam could be sent to prison for life without parole.
Before joining the Lakewood Police Department, Matlosz worked as a police officer in Englishtown, a Monmouth County suburb, and as a Class 2 special police officer in Freehold Township, Manasquan and Long Branch on the Jersey shore.
He graduated from Howell Township High School and earned his degree in criminal justice from Brookdale College in 2004.
His death was the second shooting incident involving a Lakewood police officer in recent years.
In September 2009, another Lakewood police officer, Patrolman Jonathan Wilson, was critically wounded when he was shot in the face during a gun and drug raid that resulted in a gun battle. Three other officers were shot but received lesser injuries.
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