Robber-burglar gets higher sentence on appeal

POSTED: 06/6/13 12:23 PM

St. Maarten – Ricardo Frederick Alexander York got little pleasure out of his appeal against a verdict from the Court in First Instance. In December of last year this court sentenced him to 15 months for a burglary, while acquitting him of an armed robbery, firearm possession and the possession of a machete on the public road. Yesterday the Common Court of Justice sentenced York to 6 years after it found proof for the armed robbery, the weapons possessions and the burglary. The sentence is lower than the initial demand by the prosecution in first Instance (8 years), but higher that the demand of 5 years by Solicitor-General Taco Stein at the appeals hearing on May 16.

On March 25 of last year, York robbed the Yang Yang supermarket of approximately $500

under threat of a firearm. A month later, on April 23, he burglarized a home at the De La Fuente Road where he stole a laptop and an iPod.

Shortly after the robbery investigators found a machete and clothing on the robbers’ escape-route. Only the defendant’s DNA was found on the clothing. York was also spotted in the supermarket’s vicinity shortly after the robbery and he fit the description a witness gave of one of the robbers.

But the Court in First Instance found in December that these circumstances were not enough to carry a conviction. York told the court at the trial that he had dumped the clothing and the machete in a box in the garbage. While the court thought this explanation not extremely credible, it had no evidence to exclude the possibility. The trousers found with the clothing did not match the description given by witnesses. The court furthermore noted that the robber was wearing white shoes while York wore slippers when he was arrested.

But the appeals court arrived at a different conclusion. The three judges became convinced that the clothing and the machete were used during the robbery. The court did not believe the defendant’s claim that he had discarded the clothing already before the robbery, especially because York came up with his explanation only after he was confronted with the DNA-trace evidence that was found on the clothing.

Proving the April 23, 2012 burglary was almost too easy: police officers found the defendant near the burglarized home in the possession of the laptop that was stolen from the home. York had according to the court no logical explanation for the fact that he had the computer in his possession.

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