Slap on the wrist for addicted car thief

POSTED: 05/26/11 12:28 PM

St. Maarten – Johan Jose Rogers, a 29-year-old homeless drug addict, was sentenced to 8 weeks imprisonment in the Court in First Instance yesterday for stealing a car on December 29 of last year. But the defendant, who was not in court yesterday, will not have to go back to Pointe Blanche, because he spent ten weeks in a police cell since his arrest on the day after the car theft and that entitled him to a 10-month sentence reduction.
Rogers appeared in court on March 9. That day his trial was postponed and his detention suspended on the condition that he would cooperate with a psychiatric evaluation because he hears voices in his head. This never happened as the first psychiatrist approached for the job turned it down and the second one was unable to get in touch with Rogers.
On December 29 he walked past a car that had the keys still in the ignition and the voices in his head said, “If you are a thief, why don’t you steal this car?” That is what he did. The next day he was found in the stolen car.
Judge Mr. M. Keppels pointed out that Rogers had been sentenced to a 1-year prison sentence in February 2010, and that he also had a prior conviction of 15 months with 6 months suspended dating back to 2008.
Prosecutor mr. M. Overmeer demanded 8 weeks imprisonment plus the execution of the suspended 6 months of his 2008 conviction.
“He is a repeat-offender and without supervision he will remain one,” she said.
The prosecutor wanted to send Rogers for an extended period of time to Pointe Blanche, but the defendant’s attorney, mr. B.B. Brooks said that her client needs help.
“In Pointe Blanche he will not get a proper training,” she said.
“If it is correct that he has a psychiatric disorder then he cannot be held responsible for what he did. We ought to examine first what the voices in his head are telling him. Punishing him by sending him back to the prison is not a good approach.”
Prosecutor Overmeer disagreed with mr. Brooks that Rogers cannot be held accountable.
“He is using drugs and he is the one who created the situation he is in.”
Putting the defendant under legal restraint is only possible via the Insanity Law, Overmeer said. “That is only possible if he is a danger to himself or to others and that is not the case.”
Judge Keppels said that there are indications that the defendant has a psychiatric disorder, but that this has not been established.
“A condition for his detention’s suspension was that he would cooperate with a psychiatric evaluation and that has not happened. I see no grounds to declare the defendant completely unaccountable for his actions.”
The judge rejected the prosecution’s demand to execute the suspended 6 months of Rogers’ 2008 conviction, choosing instead to sentence him to 8 weeks imprisonment and applied the sentence reduction for his lengthy stay in a police cell.

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