MILLBURN, NJ — Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray announced June 1 that an Essex County jury has convicted Shawn Custis, 45, of Newark of aggravated assault, criminal restraint, burglary, robbery, theft and endangering the welfare of a child following a six-week trial before Essex County Criminal Division Judge Ronald Wigler.
Custis was acquitted of attempted murder. The jury deliberated over two days. Sentencing is scheduled for June 29. Custis faces life in prison.
“This verdict was only made possible by the brave citizens who identified the defendant on the nanny cam and helped law enforcement deliver him to justice,” Assistant Prosecutor Jamel Semper, who tried the case with Assistant Prosecutor Olajide Araromi, said in a press release. “We are very grateful for them and the victim who was willing to come to court and face a man who brutally violated her.”
Four women, including two who had dated Custis, identified him as the attacker. What stood out in the video was the use of his left hand and the way he walks. Custis has a bad leg and walks with an unusual gait, according to the release.
On June 21, 2013, Custis broke into the victim’s Millburn home — right near the Maplewood border — assaulted her and stole her husband’s watch, her wedding rings, a necklace, cell phone and the baby monitor. During the home invasion and robbery he beat the resident unconscious. Custis kicked, punched and threw her down the basement stairs as her 3-year-old daughter sat on the living room sofa watching and her 18-month-old son was asleep in an upstairs bedroom. The assault was captured on a nanny camera.
Semper said he will be seeking the maximum prison sentence because Custis has a dozen prior convictions mostly for burglary, theft and a prior home invasion. In addition to Essex County, Custis was previously convicted of crimes in Mercer, Middlesex, Union and Burlington counties.
The victim was in the courtroom when the jury returned its verdict. Custis refused to come into the courtroom to hear the verdict.
“The defendant not only blatantly disregarded the sanctity of the victim’s home but also brutally attacked her in the presence of her young child. Today’s verdict demonstrates the community’s unwillingness to tolerate such behavior,” Araromi said in the release.
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