Jet ski drowning trial postponed until October

POSTED: 06/23/11 1:32 PM

Absent defendant swam away from girl who did not master swimming

St. Maarten – The trial of 36-year old Aubrey Th. who is accused of causing the death of 16-year old Felecia Chelsea Williams on March 27, was postponed yesterday in the Court in First Instance until October 5 because attorney Mr. B.B. Brooks had not received the relevant files to prepare her defense. The defendant was not in court; he is currently in the United States.

Th. was the driver of a jet ski on that fatal Sunday in March. He took Williams and another girl, Shamira Benjamin, along as passengers onto the waters of Great Bay while he knew that Williams did not know how to swim; in spite of this he did not make sure that the girl was wearing a life vest. The prosecution also holds it against the defendant that he was driving the jet ski while he is missing three fingers of his left hand. “He was not capable to control such a heavy craft carrying two passengers,” prosecutor Mr. B. den Hartigh said.

To make matters worse, Th. was also under the influence of alcohol. A test showed that the defendant had a blood-alcohol level of 0.58; this equals three standard glasses of alcohol. After the jet ski capsized, Th. failed to assist Williams. Instead of helping her, he swam away from her and let her drown, knowing full well, according to the indictment, that the girl did not know how to swim.

Prosecutor Den Hartigh said that the summons had been given to the defendant in person and that he had explained to him that there would be a court hearing yesterday.

But Mr. Brooks claimed that her client had not understood this, because “he does not master the Dutch language. He indicated to me that he wishes to attend his trial.”

The attorney asked the court to postpone the case.

Den Hartigh regretted that Brooks had not received a copy of the summons and conceded that he was to blame for the oversight. Though the prosecutor dismissed the defendant’s claim that he did not know he had to appear in court yesterday as “beautiful talk,” Den Hartigh said that the charges are serious and that the defense is entitled to study the case file. He did therefore not object to a postponement.

The girl’s mother submitted a claim to the court with the request to be a party in the trial as the injured party. In October the mother will get the opportunity to explain the scope of her claim to the court; she has already submitted proof of payment for the damages she suffered as a result of the tragic drowning.


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