Other Vesuvius-suspects sentenced to between 5 and 8 years. Life imprisonment for Jones and Richardson

POSTED: 11/16/12 6:23 PM

St. Maarten / By Hilbert Haar – Omar Jones and Carlos Richardson were sentenced to life in prison by Judge Rick Smid yesterday morning. Five other defendants in the Vesuvius-trial received sentences between 5 and 8 years.

Jones and Richardson were sentenced for the murders of Miguel Hector and Rodolfo Arrindell (on May 25 and July 7, 2011 respectively), Eric Lake and Kevin Gumbs on August 17, 2011), attempted murder of Omax Bye, attempted manslaughter on Kennedy Fergus (both on April 20, 2011) and on O.D. Furgentia (on August 17, 2011), firearm possession and membership of a criminal organization.

According to the court rulings this organization was set up to violate the firearm ordinance, to commit murder and manslaughter and to deal in drugs. The attorneys for Jones and Richardson, mrs. Brenda Brooks and Peggy Ann Brandon will appeal the verdicts.

Ekron Morgan was sentenced to 8 years, Doniel Darryl Thomas to 7 years, Erno Desmond Wycliff Labega and Andrew Sevin Davis to 6 years each and Charles Edmond Fleming to 5 years.  The sentences are between 2 and 4 years below the demands by the prosecution.

The court rulings mark the interim conclusion of the most expensive investigation in the history of country St. Maarten. The $2 million investigation will get at least a partial replay when defendants go on appeal. The appeal hearing has to take place within 150 days after the term to file for appeal ends on November 29. The Vesuvius-convicts could therefore return to the courtroom somewhere in April of next year.

The life sentences against Jones, 35, and Richardson 30, are conform the demand by prosecutors Gonda van der Wulp and Bart den Hartigh. In September the appeals court overturned the life sentences of Regatta-killers Sherwan Roberts and Curtley Allison Richards and sentenced them to 30 years instead.

The judges referred in September to a ruling by the European Human Rights Court that says that imposing life imprisonment is “irreducible” and therefore has to be considered as incompatible with article 3 of the Human Rights Treaty if the convict is reprieved of any perspective for release.

Judge Smid went against that ruling; in the Richardson-verdict he motivates the life sentence, saying that it does not violate the Human Rights Treaty. “For the purpose of article 3 it is sufficient that the duration of the punishment can be shortened de iure and de facto (in law and in fact – ed.).”

The court ruling states that jurisprudence from the European Human Rights Court does not indicate that a provision for shortening a life sentence has to consist of a statutory regulated recurrent review of the sentence by a judge. Judge Smid noted that such a provision in St. Maarten’s new criminal code is the subject of debate “because a recurrent review during a public hearing of the Common Court brings too much social unrest and opening of wounds for survivors, as recently happened in the first review case in Curacao.”

In St. Maarten the possibility exists to pardon a convict who is serving a life sentence, the ruling states. In cases of urgent necessity convicts also have the option to call on article 43 of the code of criminal procedures and ask the court for a provision.

It cannot be established whether the method of granting a pardon is effective in St. Maarten, Judge Smid ruled, based on the position that no prior life sentences have been imposed in the country.

In 1954 a convict named Sophia, who was sentenced to death in Curacao, was pardoned after 25 years in prison. In January 1994 the former Netherlands Antilles pardoned 48-year-old H.M. Martis for health reasons.

“A pardon before death is therefore not impossible,” Judge Smid ruled. “The single fact that the duration of the sentence in a concrete case is de facto lifelong does not mean that the punishment is incompatible with article 3 of the European Human Rights Treaty.”

Jones and Richardson were the last two suspects to appear in the temporary court room in the Belair Community Center. Reading the seven verdicts was completed in two hours time.

Andrew Davis, sporting a blue tee-shirt with the rather optimistic text for successful living, was the first one up. He smiled throughout the proceedings and chatted with the guards; he did not seem to be suffering any ill effects from an incident in the Simpson Bay House of Detention of Saturday.

The court acquitted Davis, 31, of involvement in the Eric Lake and Kevin Gumbs murders and the attempted murder of Omax Bye and the attempted manslaughter of Kennedy Fergus. The court found the defendant guilty of firearm possession, membership of a criminal organization and doing groundwork for the attempt on the life of Omax Bye by having a car, a firearm and prepaid cell phones available to facilitate the assault. The prosecution demanded 9 years against Davis, but the court sentenced him to 6 years.

After Davis, the arrest team brought Ekron Sylvan Collin Morgan, 35, and Charles Edmond Fleming, 37, into the courtroom.

The court acquitted Morgan as an accomplice in the murder of Hector Miguel Arrindell, but found him guilty as an accessory to this crime. Morgan was also sentenced for firearm possession and membership of a criminal organization. The prosecution demanded 11 years against Morgan; the court sentenced him to 8 years.

Charles Fleming was acquitted as an accomplice in the attempted murder on Omax Bye and the attempted manslaughter on Kennedy Fergus but he was sentenced as an accessory. Charges for firearm possession and membership of a criminal organization also stuck. The prosecution demanded 8 years against Fleming; the court sentenced him to 5 years.

Erno Labega who was involved in a fight in the Pointe Blanche prison whereby has was stabbed, made a fit impression when he entered the courtroom together with Doniel Thomas. Facing a 10-year prison term, Labega got off with just 6 years for being an accessory to the attempted murder on Omax Bye and the attempted manslaughter on Kennedy Fergus, for firearm possession and for membership of a criminal organization.

Doniel Thomas, who was facing 9 years, was sentenced to 7 years for the same level of involvement in the Omax Bye and Kennedy Fergus assaults, firearm possession and membership of a criminal organization.

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Other Vesuvius-suspects sentenced to between 5 and 8 years. Life imprisonment for Jones and Richardson by

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