Prosecution demands 8 years for shooting younger brother

POSTED: 06/14/12 1:08 PM

St. Maarten – Public prosecutor mr. Manon Ridderbeks demanded 8 years imprisonment yesterday afternoon against Charles S. for the manslaughter on his brother Jamal Samuel on February 12 of this year. Attorney mr. Cor Merx asked the court to acquit his 24-year-old client of murder and manslaughter, or to dismiss all prosecution against him. Judge mr. Monique Keppels will pronounce her verdict on July 4.

The defendant returned to St. Maarten this year to do an internship at insurance company Nagico for his International Business Management study. On February 12, he got into an argument with his 18-year-old brother Jamal after the latter refused to lend him his car. “I am good enough to send you money from Holland, but I am not good enough to drive your car,” the older brother snapped.

The argument that followed went completely out of control. Prosecutor Ridderbeks said that two witnesses saw the defendant with a gun in his hand coming down the stairs at the family home in Fort Willem. Charles S. told the court that his brother had a gun and that it went off twice during a struggle on the narrow staircase leading up to the first floor.

Prosecutor and defense attorney both agreed that the fatal shooting was a tremendous family drama.

“There was a feeling of disbelief,” mr. Ridderbeks said, that a boy who is studying and doing well did something like this. It is not plausible that the witnesses have made incorrect statements about what they saw; they had no reason to do so.”

A neighbor across the street was one of two witnesses to state that she had seen the defendant holding a weapon in his hand. A second witness saw how he pointed the gun at his brother. “Take that gun out of my face,” they heard his sibling shout – and that the shots were fired.

“This was not a planned action, but an argument that went totally out of control,” mr. Ridderbeks said, adding that there was no premeditation. Getting ahead of a probable defense argument, she noted that this is not a case of self defense either. “That is not plausible. The defendant is the only one to say that a struggle took place.”

All the same, the prosecutor acknowledged that it was “not the defendant’s intention to kill his brother. But it did happen. He leaves a three year old kid fatherless. The defendant regrets this tremendously, but regret is not enough. There has to be a prison sentence that fits this family drama.”

mr. Merx, after hearing the demand for 8 years imprisonment, noted that there are two sides to the story. He labeled one of the witnesses as unreliable. He stuck to his client’s story that Jamal had come at him with a weapon.  ”Did he have to take into account that his brother would come at him with a weapon. There was a struggle during which a shot went off and then the second shot was fired in sheer panic. Who wants to shoot a family member, a brother, with whom he had a good relationship? The day before the incident the brothers were together with their sons and they had a good time. They had no problems with each other.”

But mr. Merx also brought forth that Jamal, though he was the younger of the two, was also bigger. And though he did not say this in court, in his plea of which he made a copy available to this newspaper, he noted that Jamal had been a member of the Backstreet gang and that investigators had found another firearm, masks and gloves hidden under a settee in his apartment.

mr. Merx went in detail into the different witness statements to establish that one of the witnesses could not have seen what he reportedly saw.

The attorney concluded that there is proof his client shot his brother but that there is no proof he did this intentionally. “This is why he has to be acquitted.”

mr. Merx noted that no gunshot residue was found on his clients shooting hand and that this proved that not he, but his brother had the gun in his hand. Prosecutor Ridderbeks said later that the test was done three hours after the shooting and that the results had amazed her. “The defendant probably washed his hands in the meantime, there is no other explanation,” she said.

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