Prosecution schedules two weeks for trial against 7 gang membersPOSTED: 06/7/12 1:13 PM
St. Maarten / By Hilbert Haar – The Court in First Instance set the date for the Vesuvius-trial at October 1 yesterday. The public prosecutor’s office reckons the trial will take two weeks. Because there are seven defendants, Judge mr. H.A.C. Smid said that the trial would take place “at a location to be decided upon by the court,” thereby indicating that it will possibly not take place in the courthouse in Philipsburg.
The Vesuvius-trial deals with the murders of Hector Miguel and Rodolfo Arrindell, Kevin Gumbs and Eric Lake, and with the attempted manslaughter on a woman who was a random bystander during the latter two murders on August 17 of last year on Illidge Road. The eight defendants are also accused of membership of a criminal organization, lead by Adin Omar Wladimir J., the brother of Amador Jones who was murdered on April 16 of last year.
The members of the gang led by Omar J. (34 years of age) are or were Carlos Alfonso R. (29), Erno Desmond Wycliff L. (29), Andrew Selvin D. (30), Ekron Sylvan Collin M. (34), Charles Edmond F. (36), D.D. (Sheldon) Thomas and A.C. (Anthony) Whyte.
Sheldon Thomas was shot to death on the Cakehouse Road on August 19. Anthony Whyte was shot in his Dutch Quarter home on September 18 of last year.
Five of the seven gang members that are still alive are from St. Maarten, one is from Jamaica, and one is from St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Yesterday there was again increased security around the courthouse; heavily armed officers clad in balaclavas stood guard outside, while the street next to the courthouse’s side entrance was partly blocked with civilian looking police vehicles and crime scene tape. Inside, visitors to the courtroom were subjected to electronic scans, after RST-officers had done a security screen in the courtroom itself. Five offers were at hand in the courtroom; three of them had their faces obscured with balaclavas.
Apart from the murders, the attempted manslaughter on August 17 and membership of a criminal organization, the prosecution also charges the gang members with drugs trafficking and with attempted manslaughter on April 20 of last year in Dutch Quarter on Kennedy Fergus and Omax Bye whom they suspected to be the killers of Amador Jones.
Gang leader Omar J. was furthermore charges with weapons possession. In a separate summons, the prosecution detailed that this defendant has two revolvers in his possession (a 9 mm Arminus and a 0.38 caliber Taurus SPL), a 5.56 mm semi automatic PWA Milan IL rifle model Commando, two 12-gauge hunting rifles (a Remington 1100 6KV5 and a Winchester Stainless Marine, as well as a .22 caliber Springfield Armory mod. 1963 rifle.
Yesterday’s court hearings were designed to hear further investigation requests from the defense attorneys. In the morning, defendants were brought in two by two – Carlos Alfonso R. and Adin Omar Wladimir J. first, and Doniel Darryl Th. and Erno Desmond Wycliff L. afterwards. In the afternoon three more defendants appeared: Andrew Selvin D., Ekron Sylvan Collin D. and Charles Edmond F.
Judge Smid allowed defense attorneys mrs. Vaders and Brenda Brooks to hear nine witnesses at the Judge of Instruction for their clients Carlos R. and Omar J. He also ordered their imprisonment until the trial in October. Attempts by attorneys mrs. Vaders and Peggy Ann Brandon to have the detention of their clients Doniel Th. and Erno L. – a cousin of suspected gang leader Omar J. – failed.
The afternoon session produced a no-show for defendant Andrew Selvin D. According to prosecutor mr. Bart den Hartigh he is detained “elsewhere in the Kingdom for his own safety.” D. did not sign the waiver to his right to attend yesterday’s court hearing ‘because he does not understand Dutch,” Den Hartigh said. The defendant had however verbally given up his right to attend. “He also said that he wants to return to St. Maarten,” the prosecutor said. “We are now looking at the possibilities to detain him here.”
mr. Geert Hatzmann, the attorney for Charles Edmond F. had no additional investigation requests. mr. Ralph Richardson asked the court to hear two witnesses that are able to confirm the whereabouts of his client Ekron Sylvan Collin M. at the time of the Hector Miguel Arrindell murder on May 25 of last year.
Judge Smid granted these requests. The prosecution will also look into possibilities to obtain video footage from two banks and from the police station, though he already indicated that this footage from the banks is not available and that the police station has no footage at all because the cameras are broken. The judge also ordered the imprisonment of the defendants until the date of the trial in October.