The New Jersey Supreme Court recently handed down a ruling that required Monmouth County prosecutors to re-try a murder case against a Neptune NJ man. However, the defendant won’t get the chance for a re-trial because he tragically died just a few days before the ruling was issued.
The state’s highest court declared that David Bass was entitled to a new trial in Monmouth County Superior Court. Bass had been charged with first degree murder in connection with the fatal shooting of a 19-year-old woman. Bass also allegedly shot, and wounded, a man during the incident.
The homicide occurred at a hotel located in Neptune Township, NJ. According to authorities, Bass and the two victims smoked crack cocaine together on December 20, 2006. Later that same day, Bass reportedly got into an altercation with the female victim over money. The altercation eventually became physical, with Bass allegedly taking out a handgun and fatally shooting the victim.
Bass later claimed that he only used the handgun in self-defense.
After a trial in Monmouth County Superior Court, Bass was found guilty on several criminal charges, including first degree murder, attempted murder, and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose. The trial court judge subsequently sentenced Bass to a term of incarceration of 60 years in NJ State Prison.
Bass later appealed the trial court jury’s verdict, arguing that he was denied the right to cross-examine the male victim in the shooting. The male victim was actually the State’s lead witness in the murder case against Bass. The reason Bass wanted to cross-examine him was that the witness had reportedly reached a plea agreement with prosecutors: in exchange for testifying against Bass, Monmouth County prosecutors would drop a different criminal charge that could have put the victim in prison for the rest of his life.
Now the New Jersey Supreme Court has said that Bass should have been allowed to cross-examine the witness. The court’s opinion states that “the jury could have drawn an inference of bias” based on the witness’ testimony and his favorable plea deal.
Despite the NJ Supreme Court’s clear edict that Monmouth County prosecutors secure another conviction, the case won’t actually head back to trial. That’s because Bass, who was 65 years old, passed away prior to the high court’s ruling.
For additional information about this case, see the following article: Dead man gets new trial in ’06 Neptune murder