Appeal ruling Middle Region stabbing: Court cuts sentence in half

POSTED: 03/21/14 7:02 PM

St. Maarten – The Common Court of Justice gave Shanieska Alisia Brooks a significantly milder punishment on appeal for stabbing her former friend Kimberly Illidge to death on March 23 of last year. While the Court in First Instance sentenced Brooks to 8 year for murder, the Appeals Court concluded the stabbing was manslaughter and handed down a 4-year prison sentence.

Brooks, who just turned 18 twelve days ago, stomped out of the courtroom after the ruling. Her co-defendant Eric Johnson, who was acquitted at the trial in First Instance, now received a 1-year conditional prison sentence with 3 years of probation and 120 hours of community service. The prosecution demanded a 5-year conditional sentence at the appeals hearing on February 26.

The Appeals Court acquitted Brooks of murder based on the argument that she had not sought the confrontation with the victim. “The defendant waited until Illidge was no longer on the street. She intended to go home, not to seek the confrontation, after she had not seen Illidge outside for half an hour. The shortest way led past Illidge’s house. When she passed the house, Illidge ran outside and a confrontation ensued, whereby the defendant stabbed her.”

The court dismissed Brooks’ argument of self-defense; there are no witnesses who testified that Illidge hit Brook several times in her face before the stabbing took place. The report by child psychiatrist Cheryl Ferero helped Brooks case to a certain degree. Ferero stated that, at 17, Brooks was “in a critical phase of the development of her brain, whereby it has not developed sufficiently to think ahead properly and to oversee all consequences of an action.”

The court furthermore appreciated that Brooks had expressed sincere regrets and that she has recognized the seriousness of her actions. The court furthermore took into account that the detention conditions are relatively heavy for someone so young.

The court found Eric Johnson guilty of complicity to manslaughter. “The defendant gave a knife to a girlfriend with which she has stabbed a young woman to death.”

The court rejected the defense argument that Johnson had given the knife to Brooks so that she could defend herself against the larger and older Illidge, who was presumably armed with a golf club. The court ruled however that Johnson’s intention was geared towards threatening and not towards enabling Brooks to defend herself against Illidge.

 

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