‘I Want Justice for My Son,’ Says Victim’s Mother During Homicide Sentencing 

Thank you for reading D.C. Witness. Help us continue our mission into 2024.

Donate Now

DC Superior Court Judge Robert Okun sentenced a homicide defendant to 23 years of incarceration before more than 20 of the victim’s family and friends.

James Jackson, 30, was originally charged with first-degree murder while armed – felony murder for his involvement in the fatal shooting of 29-year-old Christian Gabriel Monje on May 30, 2022, on the 1700 block of Rhode Island Avenue, NW. 

Monje was on the steps of a church when Jackson approached and engaged him in a struggle. Jackson shot Monje once in the head, before fleeing the scene. 

Monje succumbed to his injuries June 16, 2022.

On Feb. 14, Jackson accepted a plea deal that required him to plead guilty to second-degree murder while armed, in exchange for the prosecution not seeking an indictment. Through the deal, parties agreed to a 19-to-23 year sentencing range. 

“I want justice for my son,” said Monje’s mother during her victim impact statement on May 24, adding “Christian is more than photos, letters, and videos,” which they previously shared with Judge Okun.

“I was so proud of him,” she stated, claiming he was flourishing in the months leading up to his murder. 

“Christian was going to be good, but his life was shattered,” said his mom. 

As for the plea, the mother said, the defendant asked for multiple continuances to think about it, “but he didn’t think before he shot.” 

“He took a life. My family is not complete,” she argued. 

“I begged God to save [Christian],” she stated. However, she said, after watching him suffer, she “Begged God to take him.” 

“I told him how much I love him, how much I’ll miss him,” she said about her final conversation with him. “The day he died, I whispered in his ear ‘I will be happy in your honor’.”

“From the time my son was born, he was a fighter,” cried Monje’s dad.

“I have to go every night to the cemetery to say goodnight to my son. I don’t think that’s right,” he proclaimed. 

He too, asked for justice. 

The prosecutor displayed a video, created by his family, which depicted images of his life and said “Recordando a nuestro amado Christian Gabriel. Viviras por siempre en nuestros corazones” – translated to remembering our beloved Christian Gabriel. You’ll live in our hearts forever. 

Prosecutors insisted Jackson is a danger to the community, recalling his previous convictions, which included the stabbing of a victim on the chest. 

“Christian was minding his own business,” said the prosecutor, adding Jackson confronted him on the church steps, shot him on the head and ran away with his bag.

Prosecutors credit the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) for matching Jackson’s DNA from a Maryland case to Monje’s murder scene. 

Had the match not been made, the prosecutor claimed, this case would have been “one of the many unresolved homicide cases in the District.”

According to the prosecutor, Jackson had been given multiple opportunities by judges in two Maryland jurisdictions, but he “kept reoffending and reoffending, until Memorial Day in DC, when he murdered Monje.”

“He saw someone who was vulnerable and took advantage of him,” the prosecution insisted. 

He asked Judge Okun to not give him more chances, adding “we are asking this for the safety of the public.” 

“The only thing that works is keeping him in prison,” said the prosecutor as he requested Judge Okun sentence him to 23 years.

“Jackson never meant for this to happen,” insisted Richard Finci, his defense attorney, adding “he has expressed extreme remorse.”

Finci discussed Jackson’s long standing substance abuse issues, adding he has previously attempted suicide, or overdosed, twice. 

“He intends to come out a changed and better person,” Fici said, insisting Jackson will focus on becoming a better person to ensure he’s able to parent his twin children when he’s released. 

Jackson corroborated Finci’s arguments, stating “I feel remorse daily,” adding that he was “an addiction fueled time bomb,” when the incident occurred. 

“I would like to take accountability for my actions and ask for forgiveness,” he told Judge Okun. 

“It’s obvious he meant a lot to a lot of people, and it’s obvious that he will be sorely missed,” said Judge Okun about Monje. 

However, he stated, no sentence that he imposed would bring Monje back to his loved ones, or fill the hole his loss has left on their lives. 

Judge Okun deemed the incident a “completely random, unjustified crime… the killing of a person,” stating that he considered the seriousness of the crime and Jackson’s criminal history for his sentencing. 

“There is no doubt in my mind that a sentence at the top of the guidelines is necessary,” said Judge Okun, as he imposed a 23 year sentence. 

Jackson will be required to serve a supervised release period of five years, register as a gun offender, and receive substance abuse and mental health assessments and treatments. 

“For your sake, for your kids’ sake, and for the community’s sake, I hope that when you get out you can be a good member of society and not come back to Superior Court,” Judge Okun told Jackson. 

No further dates were set. 

Follow this case