- Associated Press - Monday, March 7, 2016

FREEHOLD, N.J. (AP) - New Jersey’s Supreme Court has overturned a man’s murder conviction because his lawyer couldn’t cross-examine a deceased medical examiner.

The unanimous ruling made public Monday means 65-year-old David Bass will get a new trial in the 2006 slaying of 19-year-old Jessica Shabazz.

Shabazz was fatally shot on Dec. 20, 2006, at a Neptune motel. Also injured was James Sinclair, who had to have his right pinky finger partially amputated.

Bass was convicted of murder, attempted murder and two weapons charges stemming from the double shooting in 2010. He was later sentenced to serve 60 years in prison with no chance of parole before serving 57 years.

An autopsy report prepared by Monmouth County Medical Examiner Jay Peacock was used as evidence during the trial. Peacock had unexpectedly died before Bass’ trial, but the trial judge allowed another medical examiner in that office to testify about Peacock’s report. The justices ruled that the witness should only have been allowed to testify about his own independent observations.

The high court also found Bass’ lawyer should have been allowed to cross-examine Sinclair about a plea bargain he reached with the prosecutor’s office in an unrelated case.

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