Robbery-suspect will most likely be acquitted

POSTED: 08/11/11 11:54 AM

St. Maarten – The Court in First Instance spent ample time on the case of Jimey Everton B, yesterday morning, but after everything is said and done, the 19-year-old will most likely hear next week from Judge Mr. M. Keppels that he is acquitted of an armed robbery that occurred on the evening of March 5 on the Rhine Road in Maho, because the evidence against him is extremely weak. In spite of this, the prosecution demanded 2 years imprisonment.

Two American tourists were confronted by a man brandishing a machete on March 5 around ten thirty at night. He screamed at them that they had to get out of their car. The frightened women complied, and the machete-wielding robber drove off with their vehicle. Because he had a tee shirt pulled over his face, the tourists were unable to identify the robber.
Police spotted the stolen car on April 14 on the Joaquin Yrasquin Boulevard. Attempts to stop the car failed, shots were fired, but the three men who were in the car managed to escape. Investigators found Jimey B.’s iPhone and a bankbook on the name of his grandmother Shirley in the car. His fingerprints were on the car’s hood and on a CD-box in the glove compartment.
B. was arrested weeks later, on April 23. He spent a month behind bars and was eventually released on May 24. After his arrest, the defendant steadfastly refused to answer questions from detectives. Even though he was well within his rights to remain silent, prosecutor mr. M.L.P. Ridderbeks questioned his attitude.

Yesterday B. did talk. He told Judge mr. M. Keppels that his possessions had been found in the car because he had gotten a ride in it from a man he identified as James but whose last name eluded him. When mr. Keppels pressed him for the day this man gave him a ride, B. said this must have been shortly before his arrest on April 23. That’s not possible, Keppels pointed out, because the car was impounded by police on March 14.
Prosecutor mr. M.L.P. Ridderbeks told the defendant that robberies of the type he stood accused of made her hair stand on end.
“This type of robbery is taking place on a regular basis. In this case tourists were threatened with a machete and that enhances its impact.”
Ridderbeks said that she did not believe B.’s story about the ride he got from “James.” Instead, she argued, the fingerprints in the car proved that the defendant had been using the car.
Investigators obtained a statement from an anonymous witness who claimed to have heard “at a bus stop” from an unidentified source that B. had stolen the car. Robert M., who was at one time detained as a suspect in the same robbery, also implicated B.

Ridderbeks admitted to the court that the evidence against B. was meager, but she still concluded that there is enough proof for a conviction. She qualified B’s statements in court as unreliable and also held his attitude during the investigation against him. The prosecutor demanded a 2-year prison sentence.
Attorney mr. G. Hatzmann asked the court to acquit his client.
“The statements of the plaintiffs are not useful as proof, since they had not been able to identify the robber. There are two problems with the anonymous witness. First, the witness is anonymous, and second, her information is based on pure hearsay. She did not even indicate from whom she had obtained her information,” he said.
The statements of former suspect Robert M. did not impress Hatzmann either.
“He had a vested interest in diverting attention away from himself. That has been successful because he will not even be prosecuted.”
That his client’s fingerprints were found in the stolen car did not impress Hatzmann either, if only because there is a gap of several weeks between the day of the robbery and the day the police impounded the car.
“The evidence is weak and the European Court does not allow convictions that are solely based on statements from anonymous witnesses.”
Judge mr. M. Keppels will pronounce her verdict next Wednesday-morning at nine o’clock.

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