Defendant mistook psychiatric patient for a burglar: Prosecution wants verdict against rock-throwing man

POSTED: 01/31/13 11:48 AM

St. Maarten – In February of last year, Franklin B.M. de W. walked out of the courthouse a free man after the court found him guilty of seriously injuring a woman who turned out to be a psychiatric patient with rocks on May 4, 2011. But the court dismissed all prosecution against the defendant because it accepted his plea for self defense. The prosecutor’s office appealed the verdict and yesterday De W. was back in court. Solicitor-General Taco stein demanded a 9 month suspended prison sentence with 2 years of probation, while the defendant’s attorney Geert Hatzmann called again on self defense. The court will rule on the case on February 20.

The circumstances of the case are tragic and heartbreaking for all parties involved.

Franklin de W. lives in Cape Bay in a house that stands alone far from other houses, surrounded by shrubbery. When he came back home around midnight on May 4 he spotted somebody near one of his bedroom windows hiding in the bushes. Because he had been the victim of burglary already three times, the defendant decided to take action. On previous occasions his calls to the police had yielded no results.

He called for the person to come out of the bushes and when nobody was forthcoming, he pelted the shrubbery with stones. According to the police report, De W. threw between fifteen and twenty stones, before he finally called the police. Nobody came out of the bushes.

The defendant told the police that he started throwing the stones when the person attempted to run away. When a patrol arrived on the scene, officers found the heavily injured woman – Violet B. – in the bushes. She was unconscious and had severe head wounds.

Yesterday the defendant reiterated in court that his objective was to scare the intruder on his property. “The defendant opted to throw a large number of rocks and he called the police only afterwards,” mr. Stein pointed out, “Without doing any investigation he used a heavy measure and he did not take into account that persons without bad intentions could be on his property.”

The solicitor-general said that this is not a case of self defense. “It was an assumed threat and under those circumstances throwing stones is disproportional.”

Attorney Hatzmann said the incident was an unfortunate combination of circumstances and that anger and fear for yet another burglar had ruled his client’s emotions. “Asking a burglar nicely to leave is not an option. Before you know it you have a knife in your back or a bullet in your head,” Hatzmann said. He maintained that his client’s call on self defense is justified.


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