Prosecution demands 36 months for attempted manslaughter

POSTED: 01/11/13 12:14 PM

St. Maarten – The prosecution charges Jeanroy Johnny Q. with attempted manslaughter and demands 36 months imprisonment, with 12 months suspended and 2 years of probation. But the defendant claims his stabbing of a man on October 18 of last year was an accident and his attorney Geert Hatzmann wants the court to hand down a much milder sentence. The Court in First Instance will pronounce its ruling on this case on January 30.

The 24-year-old defendant approached his victim on October 18 in the streets to demand he set the record straight. According to Q. the other man was spreading rumors that he was walking around with a gun.

The defendant went up to the man and attempted to hit him. Instead his much taller target took him in a chokehold. Q. pulled a knife from his pants pocket. What happened next is probably a matter of opinion: the defendant said that the victim grabbed the hand in which he held the knife and then pulled hum towards himself, thereby involuntarily stabbing himself in the belly.

Prosecutor Georges van den Eshof however considered attempted manslaughter proven. “The defendant acknowledges that he has a knife. There was already a dispute with his victim for some time. There are strong arguments against a plea for self defense.”

The prosecutor pointed out that the defendant was the aggressor, that he dealt the first blow and that he pulled the knife after his adversary took him on a chokehold. “Pulling the knife was a far-reaching reaction and the defendant is responsible for it. This was not necessary. He is telling an unlikely story, but he cannot get away from his responsibility.”

Whether the stabbing could have resulted in death is a matter of opinion. “Jurisprudence establishes that stabbing someone in the upper body could result in death,” the prosecutor said. “But apparently doctor Holiday is not familiar with this jurisprudence. He marked the question whether the stabbing could have resulted in the victim’s death with uncertain. That seems to me a medical approach: as long as there is a heartbeat, it is possible to keep someone alive.”

Q.’s attorney Geert Hatzmann saw the case less black and white than the prosecution. “Let’s say that my client deployed a knife during the fight,” he said. “But this was not an assault because there was no premeditated plan to stab the victim. He grabbed the knife during the fight when he was suffocated and fought for his life. He calls on self defense. What my client did was wrong and he also admits that he went to the victim to settle a dispute.”

mr. Hatzmann said that, while Q. initiated the confrontation, the situation changed when the other man took him in a chokehold. “Under those circumstances using the knife was probably justifiable. The victim chose to let the fight escalate. He could have just hit my client back.”

The attorney said that the prosecution’s demand is too high: “There is a difference between a straightforward assault and a fight that ends in an unfortunate way.”

Prosecutor Van den Eshof did not buy into a comparison with rulings in Dutch criminal cases because sentences in St. Maarten are structurally higher – an opinion mr. Hatzmann in turn disagreed with.

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