After more than a day of deliberation, a Cass County District Court jury found 29-year-old Jerome Wesseh Koon Jr. not guilty of attempted murder, a charge that carried a maximum punishment of 20 years in prison, on Tuesday, Oct. 12. He also was acquitted on a felony charge of theft.
Jurors found Koon guilty on four other felonies: reckless endangerment, tampering with physical evidence, unlawful possession of a firearm and terrorizing. Each of those charges carries a maximum punishment of five years in prison. Koon will remain at the Cass County Jail while awaiting sentencing.
The charges were laid out in a four-day trial that began Oct. 5, with jurors going over what happened Jan. 24. Police said Koon, his sister Doris Koon and Opheliah Quiah tried to get into an apartment unit at The Arbors, 718 23rd St. S. in Fargo.
Oliver Tye, 21, was in that apartment, according to court documents. He jumped out a window with three other men, confronted Jerome Koon and his group with a gun and opened fire first, according to law enforcement.
Jerome Koon fired back with an AR-style rifle, prosecutors said. He didn’t injure anyone, but his shots hit the building, police said.
Quiah was hit three times — once on her hand, once on her arm and a third shot grazed her head — by bullets that likely came from Tye’s gun, police said.
Before the shootout, Jerome Koon allegedly stuck the barrel of his rifle under the apartment door where Tye was, according to one detective.
Tye was holding a handgun when he jumped out the window, police said. While video showed Jerome Koon grabbing a rifle out of Quiah’s duffle bag, it also showed him turning from Tye and walking away before Tye fired, police said.
Jerome Koon took Quiah to a hospital before hiding the rifle under a dumpster, police said.
He has a drug conviction from New Jersey on his record, prosecutors said. The rifle he had was reported stolen in 2020, according to police.
Doris Koon and Quiah were not charged in connection to the case.
Jerome Koon’s attorney, Jason Butts, said he was happy for his client for being acquitted on the most serious charge. He argued prosecutors did not have enough evidence to prove Koon was guilty of attempted murder.
“It’s a strange feeling when there is a mixed verdict like that,” Butts said.
Prosecutor Joshua Traiser thanked the jury for its service and said his office respects its decision. "It’s clear from the jury’s questions and the length of their deliberations that the jury carefully considered the evidence and applicable law," Traiser said.
Tye faces charges of attempted murder, aggravated assault and reckless endangerment. He was set to go to trial Oct. 26, but that trial was rescheduled for Feb. 1 after he fired his attorney, Steve Mottinger.
Tye is expected to apply for a public defender.