New Jersey inmate released from prison because of COVID-19 concerns allegedly kills man days later, officials say

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Source: MEGA; Cumberland County jail

Aug. 13 2021, Published 2:35 p.m. ET

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A man incarcerated in New Jersey on burglary charges was one of thousands of prisoners who got an early release last year as part of the state’s efforts to contain the coronavirus. Two days after the inmate gained his freedom, he allegedly killed a teenager.

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According to Department of Corrections officials, Jerry D. Crawford, 25, was set free on Nov. 4, 2020, and placed on mandatory parole supervision due to the public health emergency, NJ.com reported. Crawford and the others who were let out had little time left on their sentences.

On Nov. 6, 2020, Crawford and another man, 23-year-old Yusuf J. Waites, allegedly fatally shot Davion Marquis Scarbrough, 18, near a dirt path in a field in Bridgeton, Cumberland County. South Woods State Prison, where Crawford was previously incarcerated, was less than half a mile from the crime scene, according to NJ.com.

Two distinct sets of bullet casings were allegedly recovered at the scene, the outlet reported.

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Police charged Crawford with murder in July while he was incarcerated on gun and theft charges that were eventually dismissed after investigators failed to find evidence to support the allegations.

Crawford’s attorney is questioning why authorities waited so long to file the murder charge for last year’s shooting.

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“What’s being done now, the charging of Jerry, keeping him in jail on a charge with a phantom weapon and now charging him with the murder, they keep trying to buy time,” attorney Al Wheeler said. “You don’t buy time if you have something. He sat on a charge for seven months that was ultimately dismissed.”

Crawford and Waites face charges of first-degree murder and first-degree conspiracy to commit murder in connection to Scarbrough’s death and are being held in the Cumberland County Jail.

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