Demand again 9 years against last of the Vesuvius-suspects

POSTED: 02/28/14 11:29 PM

St. Maarten – Solicitor-General Taco Stein demanded on appeal 9 years of imprisonment against the most talkative of all the defendants in the Vesuvius-investigation, 32-year old Andrew Davis who has described himself as a good friend and an advisor to gang leader Omar Jones. After his incriminating testimonies against other gang members, Davis has fallen out of favor with his former friend.

So precarious was his situation after his arrest on November 15, 2011, that the authorities detained him for security reasons in the Netherlands for eight months. Later Davis was detained away from de gang that is sitting in pointe Blanche in Simpson Bay. Even there he was not safe: in February of last year, four fellow-inmates attacked Davis in his sleep and stabbed him thirteen times in his upper body.

Yesterday, Davis told the court that he had been in coma for three days. Last year, former chief Prosecutor Hans Mos described Davis’ condition as “stable.” Davis described his detention conditions to the court and claimed his innocence to all charges brought against him.

The court in first Instance sentenced Davis on May 5, 2012 to 6 years of imprisonment, after a demand by the prosecution of 9 years. The court found Davis guilty of membership of a criminal organization (led by Omar Jones and Erno Labega), firearm possession, participating in the preparations for the murder attempt on Omax Bye and Kennedy Fergus on April 20, 2011. However, the court acquitted Davis of complicity in the murder of Eric Lake and Kevin Gumbs on August 17, 2011 – the so-called Cats-case. The prosecutor’s office filed its appeal against Davis based on this acquittal. On the other hand, the prosecution agreed with the court for acquitting the defendant of complicity or being an accessory to the attempt on Omax Bye’s life. Bye is generally considered the killer of Amador Jones on April 16, 2011. This event set the other events in motion.

Davis told the court yesterday again that he had had nothing to do with the attempt to take the life of Omax Bye. “Omar Jones came by my house to tell me that there had been a shooting incident in Dutch Quarter and that he had forgotten to pull his mask down, and that his weapon had jammed,” Davis said, adding that Jones had been briefly detained as a suspect before family members (among them airport director Regina Labega) provided an alibi. However, Kennedy Fergus, the man who was hit during the shooting, told investigators that Jones had fired the shots.

Davis dismissed statements by Charles Fleming, another suspect in the Vesuvius-case, that he (Davis) had been near the (former) Tan Tan supermarket at the moment of the shooting and that he stood on the lookout. “I was never there,” Davis said emphatically.

Davis also denied to the court that he had been at a meeting in Omar Jones’ garden on the day of this shooting. He denied any knowledge of the meeting and denied Fleming’s claim that Jones had asked him to keep an eye on the house of Brian Christina.

While solicitor-general Stein announced that the prosecution would ask the court to acquit Davis of involvement in the Cats-killings (of Lake and Gumbs), presiding judge Van Kooten still went over the details of these events. One witness told investigators that Davis was on the scene, controlling bystanders with a gun; another witness said he had seen Davis that day in a car with Omar Jones.

“I was never there,” Davis told the court. “I was shopping at Le Grand Marché, and I paid with a bank card.”

Judge Van Kooten thought it remarkable that Davis, when he was interrogated in November 2011, “immediately knew where he had been at a particular time on August 17. Davis: “I did not immediately come up with that answer. The detectives asked me to think very carefully about what I had done that day.”

Davis furthermore contested the weapons-possession charge. He claimed he found weapons in his garden one day when he was mowing his lawn. “U told the prosecutor’s office how they got there and who they belong to,” he said. “I told Omar Jones to come and get them; otherwise I would go to the police. He said: if I come and get them and they are not there, you will pay the price.”

Two witnesses linked Davis as the “money man” to the criminal organization of Omar Jones, saying that he had good connections for buying cocaine. Davis dismissed those statements with a Jamaican proverb: “You can hide from a thief but you cannot hide from a liar.”

He said that one of the witnesses was once caught red-handed burglarizing his home. “This is the way he wants to get back at me.”

Davis was arrested on November 15, 2011. He spent eight months in virtual isolation in a prison in the Netherlands; later, in Simpson Bay, he was stabbed by four fellow-inmates. Davis said that he has asked repeatedly to be placed in a separate cell, but this only happened after the stabbing.

Solicitor-General Stein considered the charges for firearm possession, membership of a criminal organization, and complicity in the Tan Tan case proven, based on witness statements and collected evidence like a receipt showing that the day before the shooting Davis had bought four cheap cell phones that were used by the gang to communicate. Davis told the court that he had bought the phones to give away to family members in Jamaica. Stein asked the court to acquit Davis of involvement in the Cats-killings.

“Where there is smoke there is fire,” attorney Jason Rogers said about the demand by the solicitor-general. In the Tan Tan case there is only the statement by Charles Fleming that suggests Davis’ involvement, he said. The text message reading “I am here” Davis sent to Jones on April 20, indicated that the defendant was home. “The prosecution fives this message its own interpretation,” Rogers said, qualifying Fleming’s statement that Davis had been on the lookout at Afoo in Dutch Quarter as ‘hearsay.”

The weapons investigators found in Davis’ garden did not belong to Davis and the defendant only touches one of the guns when he found them. Membership of the criminal organization requires that Davis has taken part in activities. “Where is the basis for this assumption?” rogers asked rhetorically. “If we look at the facts and the circumstances then there is no legal and convincing evidence, so my client must be acquitted. In case the court arrives at a different conclusion, I ask to consider his detention circumstances. Suspects also have the right to be safe. Davis almost died from the stab wounds. He is agitated because nothing has been done about this. He was attacked by four fellow-inmates who have not been prosecuted.”

In his last word, Davis blasted Charles Fleming as an unreliable witness. “He lied about seeing me in Dutch Quarter and he lied about seeing me with a firearm. Out of 200 witnesses, he is the only one to claim he has seen me with a weapon. I am a law-abiding citizen.”

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