Athletic policeman escaped death:  Unscrupulous woman to jail for attempted manslaughter

POSTED: 10/1/14 5:27 PM

St. Maarten – Two extremely nervous young women sat in front of Judge Koos van de Ven yesterday morning for sentencing. They had the jitters in their legs, and tears in their eyes, but when everything was said and done, one of them was acquitted and the other one was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment for attempted manslaughter on a policeman and for an attempt to cause grievous bodily harm to another police officer.

American Stephanie Gonzales, 25, was the driver of a small rental car the police stopped on May 1 on Welfare Road near the Scotiabank. The police were on the lookout for the vehicle because a witness had identified it as being involved in a burglary at the home of Governor Holiday a day earlier. A police car stood in front of the rental, and an off duty officer parked his car just behind it.

When the officers asked Gonzales for identification, she said she had nothing on her and when asked for her name, she did not respond immediately. While one officer stood in front of the car, the off-duty officer started to handcuff two men who were on the backseat, after they repeatedly refused to show identification.

One of the men, C.A.C.R., told investigators that he heard the other male passenger, identified as Richard, scream “Arranca, arranca, arranca” – meaning go, go go. Gonzales back up a little with her car, then squeezed out from between the two police cars at high speed. The rear door style hit one of the police officers on his knee, while the officer in front of the car had to jump aside to avoid getting hit.

A witness later told investigators: “If that uniformed policeman had not jumped away from the car he would have been dead now. He stood in front of the car, and even hit the hood with his hands, but the driver just took off without breaking. This policeman was very athletic, that was his luck.”

The ruling states that there are facts and circumstances that could be interpreted as indications that Gonzales and her co-defendant, 38-year-old Colombian Fabrizia Cavanna S., had been in the vicinity of the governor’s house, but that there is no evidence that they partook in attempt to burglarize this place and another home.

In the car, police officers found $8,930 in cash, and a number of watches and cell phones.

While the court acquitted Fabrizia S. and ordered her release, Gonzales will remain behind bars. The court noted in its ruling that Gonzales is guilty of attempted manslaughter and an attempt to cause grievous bodily harm to two police officers. “These officers attempted to do their job by checking a car that was probably used for a burglary. They risked their lives in doing so. The defendant has attempted to get away at high speed, knowing that a police officer stood in her path. The behavior of the defendant can only be described as unscrupulous.”

At the trial, prosecutor Maarten Noordzij demanded 6 years against Gonzales and said that of this demand, 4 years was for the attempted manslaughter charge.

The court sentenced Gonzales for attempted manslaughter and the attempt to cause the second officer grievous bodily harm, but found the demand of 4 years “exorbitantly high.” The ruling refers to rulings in four other cases whereby the sentences varied from 12 months (with 6 months suspended) to 18 months with 6 months suspended.

“The prosecutor did not indicate which facts and circumstances require a very considerable deviation from the punishments in those cases,” the ruling states.

The court sentenced Gonzales to 18 months of imprisonment, with 6 months suspended and 2 years of probation.

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