NEWARK, NJActing Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray announced Tuesday that an Essex County jury has convicted Karon Townes, 25, of East Orange, of attempted murder and weapon charges following a trial before the Superior Court Judge Sherry Hutchins-Henderson. 

On Oct. 9, 2011, in the vicinity of 38 North Burnet Street in East Orange, Townes shot Alkabir Owens, now 35, of East Orange, twice from behind; once in the back and once in the head. Owens survived, but was left paralyzed from the chest down, according to Assistant Prosecutor Amber Loughran who tried the case with Assistant Prosecutor Carolina Oliveira.

Today, an Essex County jury found Townes guilty of first degree attempted murder, possession of a weapon and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose.

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Owens, an admitted drug dealer with nine felony convictions, testified that he and Townes got into a dispute the night prior to the shooting, which, resulted in Owens striking Townes in the face and Owens advising Townes he would not help him get into the drug business. The following day, under the pretense of making amends, Townes approached Owens, convinced Owens to let him join Owens for a car ride and when the men returned to East Orange and exited the car, Townes shot Owens twice from behind. 

“Ironically, in this case, the victim, who had come to see the perils of drug dealing, was trying to warn the defendant not to go down the same path he did, but the defendant would not listen. Sadly, it has ended tragically for both men. One is a paraplegic and the other is facing a lengthy prison term. There are no winners here,’’ said Assistant Prosecutor Loughran.

The trial began March 5 and the jury deliberated for a total of approximately two and a half hours before returning a guilty verdict today. After the verdict was announced, Judge Hutchins-Henderson revoked bail and remanded Townes to the Essex County Correctional Facility in Newark.

Sentencing is scheduled for May 2. Townes, who has no prior convictions but two open drug cases, faces 20 years in state prison.