WOODBURY — A 35-year-old Clayton man, Gilbert J. Jones, was found guilty Thursday of simple assault after he allegedly punched a woman he’d just met at a Glassboro party in the face several times on Sept. 11, 2011.
The woman suffered a broken jaw and required five hours of surgery that left her with two metal plates in her jaw and six screws securing her teeth, according to Assistant Gloucester County Prosecutor Staci Scheetz.
More than three years later, the victim still suffers pain and the injury inhibits her hobby of singing and her ability to smile, Scheetz said.
After receiving the jury’s verdict, which followed more than two days of deliberation, Superior Court Judge Robert P. Becker scheduled sentencing for March 20. Simple assault is a disorderly persons offense.
The 27-year-old victim testified Jones was drinking alcohol he brought to the party and tried to engage in a flirtatious exchange with her. Jones had sat on her legs, which were under a quilt and when she asked him to get up and told him she was about to leave, he flipped cigarette ashes in her face, she testified. When she asked why he did that “he just started punching me over and over and over,” she said. He announced “does anybody have a problem with it,” she testified. An acquaintance of the woman, also a prosecution witness, corroborated the assault by Jones.
Jones, who acknowledged he had a history of narcotics and theft convictions dating back to 1999 and one simple assault against his sister in 2002, testified his life “went crazy” after he began using drugs at age 15 or 16, but said he has regained sobriety and insisted “I’m not a violent person.”
After he was “sucker-punched” while leaving the party, Jones said he turned and threw punches, but did not know who he may have struck in the darkened apartment.
Cross-examined by Scheetz, Jones acknowledged he drank at a party and drove after he left, which he conceded violated the conditions of the Drug Court program he was enrolled in at the time.
Jones was arrested three weeks later while driving in Glassboro. He was “shocked,” he testified.
To find Jones guilty beyond a reasonable doubt” is a stretch,” said his lawyer Ralph Gonzalez.
Acknowledging the woman’s “horrible injuries,” Gonzalez said “to be able to say Gilbert did it, we don’t know that.”
Scheetz said the attack was “nothing other than purposeful or knowing” and it occurred because Jones “didn’t get what he wanted.”