Guilty pleas in Jan. 2013 shootings, one that involved police

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A police camera still shows Tuesday’s standoff suspect, Jermaine Junior Cordova, as he runs from police.
A police camera still shows Tuesday’s standoff suspect, Jermaine Junior Cordova, as he runs from police.

A New York man charged with two January 2013 shootings – one involving three Wilmington police officers and another that injured a man just weeks before – pleaded guilty this week to charges in each case. His co-defendant, who has been awaiting trial in his case for more than three years, was released from custody Friday after he also pleaded guilty to felony charges in the incident.

Jermaine Cordova, 39, pleaded guilty Thursday in New Hanover County Superior Court to three counts of assault with a firearm on a law enforcement officer and three counts of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, according Assistant District Attorney Connie Jordan. The charges stem from an incident that led to an exchange of gunfire with police and a 6-hour-long standoff on Barclay Hills Drive in Wilmington on Jan. 29, 2013.

On Friday, his co-defendant in the case – 27-year-old Christopher Williams – appeared in  New Hanover County Superior court and pleaded guilty to charges he faced in the case, including possession of a firearm by a felon, possession of a stolen firearm and resisting arrest.

The incident in which the two defendants were charged began when officers with the Wilmington Police Department were trying to find Williams to serve him with attempted murder warrants in connection with a shooting that injured a man about three weeks before.

The officers found Williams in the area of Princess Place Drive and watched him get into Cordova’s vehicle, Jordan said. Officers attempted to stop the vehicle but before they could, Williams jumped out and ran from police, Jordan said, while Cordova stopped the vehicle and remained inside.

Jermaine Cordova
Jermaine Cordova

As one Wilmington officer ran after Williams, two others approached Cordova, who pulled out a gun and fired shots at the officers as he ran from his vehicle on Prices Lane, Jordan said. One of the officers returned fire through the back windshield of Cordova’s car, but missed.

Cordova then encountered the officer who ran after Williams, as the officer was returning to the scene after the unsuccessful foot chase. Cordova continued to flee and was shot in the leg during another exchange of gunfire with the officer.

Cordova then ran to a home on Barclay Hills Drive, where he barricaded himself in a shed for six  hours, Jordan said. No officers were injured when shots were fired.

Police were at the scene attempting to negotiate with Cordova, who held a gun to his head and threatened to kill himself, Jordan said. Cordova eventually surrendered to police after he was gassed out of the shed. He was taken to New Hanover Regional Medical Center for treatment of the gunshot wound to his leg and was taken into police custody after his treatment.

Williams turned himself in to the Wilmington Police Department later that day. He was charged with fleeing from police and possessing a stolen firearm, which was found in a backpack Williams tossed out during the chase and recovered by officers at the scene. At the police department, he gave a statement to police that was later helpful in corroborating several witnesses’ statements accusing Cordova of being the shooter in the Jan. 2, 2013 attempted murder, Jordan said.

“Mr. Williams was very cooperative from the very beginning when he turned himself in. And then, officers were able to find other witness and ultimately get phone records showing the contact between Cordova and this stripper that was used to lure the victim out,” Jordan said.

The victim, who was 28 at the time, was contacted by a stripper offering her services in an ploy by Cordova to lure the victim to an apartment off Frog Pond Place in Wilmington, Jordan said. When the victim showed up at the apartment, Jordan said that Cordova shot the victim five times – once in each leg, twice in the chest and one time in the back.

“Incredibly serious injuries, but [the victim] miraculously survived that shooting,” Jordan said at an earlier court hearing in the case.

Williams was charged with attempted murder in the Jan. 2 incident but the case was dismissed because the state did not have any evidence tying him to the crime, Jordan said, adding that the victim was “not cooperative.”

The state’s pursuit of Cordova’s charges in New Hanover County Court followed a years-long federal court process on a firearms charge in the Jan. 29, 2013 incident.

On Aug. 21, 2013, Cordova was indicted by a federal grand jury on charge of possession of a firearm and ammunition by a felon. He pleaded guilty to that charge in March 2014 and was later sentenced to 35 years in federal prison in the case as an armed career criminal.

Then in June 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a residual clause in the armed career criminal law was unconstitutional. Cordova’s case was affected by the outcome of the ruling in that one of his previous felony convictions no longer qualified him as an armed career criminal, according to U.S. Attorney’s Office Spokesman Don Connelly.

Cordova’s 35-year federal sentence was vacated and the case was remanded for resentencing in U.S. District Court. Cordova was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison on a charge of possession of a firearm and ammunition by a felon on Feb. 26.

On Thursday, Cordova also pleaded guilty to assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill and inflict serious injury in connection with the Jan. 2 shooting.

Christopher Williams
Christopher Williams

Cordova was sentenced Thursday to more than 16 years in prison for charges in both the Jan. 2 and Jan. 29 shootings. The sentence will run concurrently with his 10-year federal sentence as ordered by the federal judge in February, Jordan said.

As part of Williams’ plea, he was sentenced to 14 to 26 months in the N.C. Department of Corrections but was given credit for more than 36 months of time served at the New Hanover County Jail and 73 days under house arrest prior to his plea on Friday. He has since been released from custody.

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