Cop who described drunkenly shooting friend convicted of murder
Deptford Township police officer James A. Stuart has been found guilty of murder and aggravated manslaughter in the Jan. 13 fatal shooting of 27-year-old friend David Compton.
The shooting took place in Stuart's Oak Valley home in Deptford, according to the Gloucester County Prosecutor's Office.
Superior Court Judge Robert P. Becker revoked Stuart’s $250,000 bail and he was placed in jail pending a Dec. 18 sentencings. The murder count carries a sentence of 30 years to life in prison. Manslaughter penalties range from 10 to 30 years.
According to the prosecutor's office, citing testimony from the trial, Compton died at Cooper Medical Center in Camden six days after the shooting from brain damage due to oxygen deprivation. His jaw and two vertebrae in his neck were fractured and his spinal cord was crushed from the bullet that struck him in the cheek.
The prosecutor's office said the shooting happened after night of drinking and dancing at a bar, then more drinking at Stuart’s home. He had a 14 blood alcohol level, according to the prosecutor's office.
Stuart had testified he did not believe he was drunk when leaving a Washington Township bar but acknowledged he continued drinking later, the prosecutor's office said.
Compton and Stuart had been watching a movie when Compton, of Woodbury, asked to see Stuart's off-duty weapon, the prosecutor's office recounted Stuart testifying. tuart testified he unloaded the Glock 27 and let Compton "dry-fire" it at "bad guys" on the screen in the movie. He later made sure his Glock 22 service weapon and another handgun were unloaded before letting Compton handle them, he said. He showed Compton how to reload, but never saw him do so, Stuart said.
Stuart testified he'd fallen asleep for a while, picked up the gun and sure it was unloaded, expected to "dry fire' it at the movie as well, according to the prosecutor's office But when Compton spoke, he turned toward him, heard a "loud boom," unsure of what happened, Stuart had said.
Stuart testified he then saw a small hole in Compton's cheek.
Assistant Gloucester County Prosecutor Dana Anton said it was Stuart who shot Compton around 5 a.m. in his living room either purposely, knowingly or with extreme indifference to human life, according to the prosecutor's office.
A week ago, Stuart testified "unfortunately, I think I did" shoot Compton, but didn’t intend to, and said “I hate myself” for what happened, the prosecutor's office recounted.