NEWARK, NJ - On June 1, an Essex County Jury convicted Shawn Custis of aggravated assault, criminal restraint, burglary, robbery, theft and endangering the welfare of a child, according to a statement from Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray. Custis was acquitted of attempted murder.
The conviction of Custis, 45, of Newark followed a six-week trial before the Honorable Ronald Wiger, and two days of jury deliberations. It has been almost two years since the brutal attack, which occurred on June 21, 2013. Custis was arrested on June 28, 2013. Sentencing is scheduled for June 29. Custis faces life in prison, according to the statement from the Essex County Prosecutor's Office.
"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,'' said Assistant Prosecutor Jamel Semper, who tried the case with Assistant Prosecutor Olajide Araromi.
"We are very grateful for them and the victim who was willing to come to court and face a man who brutally violated her,'' Assistant Prosecutor Semper added.
Four woman, including two who had dated Custis, identified him as the attacker. Identifying features of Custis in the nanny cam video were the use of his left hand and what the prosecutor described as "an unusual gait," as Custis has a "bad leg."
According to the Essex County Prosecutor's Office, on June 21, 2013, Curtis broke into the victim's Cypress St. home in Millburn at approximately 10 a.m., where the mother was with her two young children. During the home invasion robbery he beat the woman until she was unconscious. Custis kicked, punched, and threw her down the basement stairs as her three-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.
Curtis stole from the home her husband's watch, her wedding rings, a necklace, cell phone and the baby monitor.
Assistant Prosecutor 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, according to the Essex County Prosecutor's Office.
"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,'' said Assistant Prosecutor Araromi.