Mason acquitted of manslaughter

POSTED: 05/30/13 11:32 AM

St. Maarten – Andrew Ellis E. literally walked out of the courthouse a free mason yesterday afternoon after the Court in First Instance acquitted him of the manslaughter on Oscar Anselm on April 30, 2011. The 38-year-old mason successfully called on self defense, a claim that was not contested by the prosecution, but the court made his day by completely acquitting him of the charges.

Judge Tamara Tijhuis arrived at her verdict based on a weakness in the summons that was also pointed out by prosecutor Dounia Benammar. The defendant was charged of causing Anselm’s death on April 30, 2011. But in fact, the defendant threw a stone at his adversary that day; death followed five days later.

The defendant told police at the time that he had indeed thrown a stone at Anselm, but that a lot had happened before this action. A dispute between the two men started after the victim wanted to cadge a cigarette from the defendant. When E. refused because he had only one left, Anselm got angry an accused the other man of stealing his slippers.

From there the situation went from bad to worse whereby Anselm first threatened the defendant with a knife and later with a machete, shouting that he was going to kill him.

When all attempt to diffuse the situation failed and Anselm was still coming at him, E. picked up a stone and threw it in his attacker’s direction. The heavy stone hit the victim’s head and a piece was lodged in his brain. Five days later, Anselm passed away at the hospital.

Prosecutor Bennamar wondered aloud whether it was possible to prove the charges, because the victim did not die on the day of April 30 when the accused threw his stone. But even if the fact could be legally proven, the prosecutor said, the question remains whether he is punishable for it, or that his call on self defense would pass muster.

“The victim became first aggressive with a knife and later with a machete, shouting I will kill you. If this man did not have the right to defend himself than I don’t know it anymore,” she said. The prosecutor proposed to declare the facts proven but to drop all prosecution against the defendant.

E.’s attorney Safira Ibrahim asked the court for a fully conditional sentence or for the dismissal of all prosecution. “My client made every attempt possible to avoid a confrontation,” she told the court.

Judge Tijhuis immediately pronounced her verdict. She established that the defendant had intentionally thrown the stone at his victim, but that there had been no intent to kill and that he had not specifically targeted Anselm’s head. “But you did take the chance that you would hit his head,” she added.

Strictly speaking, the judge continued, the charges are that the defendant killed Anselm on April 30. “The summons should have read: in the period between April 30 and May 5, 2011. The way it is put now I am unable to prove the charges. Needless to say, you had the right to defend yourself against a man who came at you with a machete.”

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