• Lynda Cohen

Atlantic City man sentenced to five years in fatal shooting

Updated: Mar 28

An Atlantic City man who armed himself for protection was sentenced to five years in prison Thursday for killing a man who allegedly attacked him. Howard Cassell, now 32, was taking his regular cigarette break at about 11 a.m. March 12, 2018, outside A.C. Linen when he was approached by two men, surveillance video shows. One of them was Tajai Hicks-Anderson, who had shot at Cassell three days earlier, after Cassell caught his child’s mother having an affair with Hicks-Anderson, defense attorney Ed Weinstock told the judge. After the shooting, Cassell got a gun, Weinstock said. The attorney admitted his client should have gone to police. “He did take matters into his own hands and procured a weapon for his own self-defense,” Weinstock said. Cassell’s girlfriend then allegedly told Hicks-Anderson that Cassell had slashed her tires, and that he always took his break at 11 a.m. Video shows Hicks-Anderson and 21-year-old Da’Quan Montague attack around that time on March 12, 2018. During the scuffle, a shot was fired, and Montague was fatally struck. “He did not need to shoot my son,” Montague’s mother wrote in a letter read by Assistant Prosecutor Aaron Witherspoon before sentencing. “He was already running away.” But he was not running, Weinstock countered. “If he had, this would not have happened,” he said, adding that “a lot of the blame is at (Montague’s) feet.” Cassell pleaded guilty to three second-degree charges, including manslaughter, with sentencing at the judge’s discretion. Taking into account the attack, Superior Court Judge Bernard DeLury sentenced Cassell to five years in prison, with a mandatory 85 percent before he is eligible for parole under the No Early Release Act, or four years and three months. He was given credit for 535 days he already served in the Atlantic County Justice Facility, meaning he could be free in about two years and nine months. Cassell declined to address the court.

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