Accomplice to Son Latino murders sentenced to 18 years imprisonment

POSTED: 02/3/14 11:58 AM

St. Maarten – The Court in First Instance sentenced Rodriguez Leonel Prosper Weinum yesterday to 18 years of imprisonment for complicity to the murders of 25-year-old Anthony Whit and 21-year-old Miguel Torres Cleman on December 9, 2012 near the Son Latino nightclub on Illidge Road. The sentence matches the demand by the prosecution.

The witnesses for the defense that withdrew their earlier statements during the trial on January 10 could not save the day for the defendant. One of the witnesses, a young hairdresser, initially told police she had seen the 34-year-old Weinum with a gun in his hand at the night of the murders. In court, she later withdrew that statement and claimed that the defendant had been sleeping in his car. Even after threats from the prosecution to charge her with perjury, the young woman stuck to her story.

It is unlikely though that the hairdresser will be prosecuted for perjury, because the prosecutor’s office has other priorities.

The court did not buy it, or so it appears from the ruling. Weinum also withdrew from his statements to the police, but the court pointed out that he had read these statements and that he had initialed each page of it.

The court concluded from the evidence that Weinum was during the night of the murders at Son Latino together with others. Among them are two people identified as Papa and Primo. After Son Latino closed at 4 a.m. on Sunday morning December 9, a fight erupted, whereby the group that included Weinum engaged Whit and Torres Cleman.

“The defendant actively took part in the fight. Primo asked the defendant to get “the thing” or the defendant walks to his car on his own. Anyway, he takes a firearm from his rental car, a .38 caliber revolver and walks, visible for the public, with the weapon to Primo. Primo fires at least four shots with this weapon and hits Whit twice in the head. The other bullets hit Whit’s car,” the court summarizes the deadly events.

After the shooting Primo, Papa and a man named Sifontes Gomes get in the car with Weinum and drive off. “Shortly afterwards the car stops, Primo gets out, and he hits the victim that is lying on the street, Torres Cleman, with the butt of the revolver on his head until the victim does not move anymore. Primo gets back in the car that leaves the crime scene at high speed, with the defendant as the driver.”

Whit dies of the bullet wounds, Torres Cleman from the wounds to his head.

The court concludes from this sequence of events that there was a close and conscious cooperation between Primo and Weinum. “The defendant willingly accepted the significant chance that Primo would fatally wound the victims.”

The court also considered the possibility that Weinum fired at least one shot himself with a different weapon. One witness spotted Weinum that night holding a semi-automatic rifle. The forensic investigation showed four 0.38 caliber bullets belonging to the weapon Primo used to shoot Whit. In the victim’s car, investigators found one bullet of a different caliber that must have been fired from a semi-automatic weapon of the kind the witness saw in the hands of the defendant.

While this is legal evidence, the court did not consider it convincing. “There is only one person who saw the defendant fire a shot but that was aimed at the victim Torres Cleman, while the bullet was found in Whit’s car. The witness also was not sure of himself during the photo confrontation. Therefore the court is of the opinion that it cannot be proven that the defendant fired a shot.”

Nevertheless, the court considers that Weinum played “a crucial role” in the murders. From the text of the ruling, it seems that the court had an even heavier punishment in mind for the defendant than the 18 years the prosecution demanded. In its ruling, the court takes into account “the fact that the defendant did not fire the fatal shots at one of the victims and that he did not administer the fatal blows to the other one either.” In spite of this consideration, the court met the prosecution’s demand and sent Weinum to jail for 18 years.

 

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