Threatened girlfriend lied to Judge of Instruction: Shooting-suspect denies everything

POSTED: 01/24/13 10:33 AM

St. Maarten – Apart from his name and date of birth, Jason Omar M. denied everything in the Court in First Instance yesterday, but that did not stop public prosecutor Gonda van der
Wulp to demand a 7-year prison sentence for attempted manslaughter and ill-treatment of his girlfriend Sammy S. on October 3 of last year. The court will pronounce its verdict on February 13.

When the defendant appeared in court on January 9, the case was postponed because Sammy S., who was asked to appear as a witness, did not show up. Yesterday the reluctant witness was brought to the court by the police at the judge’s instructions. She has in the meantime been taken into custody for perjury – a consequence of lying to the judge of instruction.

When the defendant and the girl got into a heated argument on October 3, M. hit the 26-year-old woman in her face with his fist and knocked her on the head with a firearm. After some pushing and shoving at the door of her bedroom, M. finally fired a shot that hit the woman in the groin.

When police officers arrived on the scene, the victim immediately identified Jason M. as the shooter. She also said this in a statement to the police. But when she appeared later in front of the judge of instruction, she changed her story and said that not M., but one Jamal L. had shot her.

Judge Tamara Tijhuis heard Sammy S. as a witness outside of the defendant’s presence. The reason for this measure became clear quickly.

The woman admitted that her statement to the judge of instruction was false that she had not actually seen who shot at her, and that there were no other people than Jason M. in the house when the shot was fired.

“I was under pressure. I have been afraid ever since I filed the complaint against M.,” she said in answer to a question by prosecutor Van der Wulp why she had lied to the judge of instruction.

Where that pressure came from appeared from a tapped phone conversation between the woman and the defendant. The conversation took place last week Friday, five days before the trial. The woman said that she did not remember the conversation, and Jason M. later even denied that it has ever taken place. But while the woman denied that a certain phone number was hers (“My phone was stolen”), Jason M. later confirmed that this same number belonged to her. But M. denied that he had called the woman.

Prosecutor Van der Wulp played a part of the phone conversation in the court room. It made clear that the male voice on the recording is that of Jason M. – even though he claimed: “That does not sound like me at all.” Judge Tijhuis also noted that the accent and the way of speaking on the recording are similar to that of the defendant.

In this phone conversation the woman tells M. that she has been lying for him, while M. says that he will kill her when he gets out of prison.

Sammy S. told the court that M. shot her through her bedroom door. However, crime scene pictures of this door do not show bullet holes. “I know I was shot through the door,” the woman insisted. She stated that she “assumes” that M. shot her, while she acknowledged that the man had hit her with a weapon on her head.

Judge Tijhuis dismissed the witness, notifying her that she will remain in custody until she has been interrogated by the police. After that, she will be send home with a summons to appear in court on charges of perjury.

Jason M. told the court after the witness had departed: “she is lying.” He denied that he fired a shot through the bedroom door (“I don’t have a weapon”) and he also denied that he had had phone contacts with the victim – even though Sammy S. had confirmed the call to the court. The expletive-ridden conversation was partly played in the courtroom. In it, the male voice says among other things: “I will shoot you all when I get out. I won’t come to rob, I will come to kill.”

Prosecutor van der Wulp considered attempted manslaughter and ill-treatment proven, based on the victims complaint and her extensive description of the incident. Officers who came to the scene of the shooting also heard from the victim that Jason M. had shot her, though the forensic department had not found a bullet hole in the bedroom door.

“The phone tap shows that the defendant threatened the victim. She is in a very difficult position,” the prosecutor acknowledged. “I have no doubts that he will execute his threats once he comes out of prison won’. It is therefore in the interest of the community and the girlfriend that they are protected from him for a long time.”

The prosecutor noted that the defendant has several sentences on his record. In 2006 he was sentenced to a conditional prison sentence for firearm possession and for threatening someone. In 2009 he also received a conditional 1-year sentence for gun possession, and last year he was sentenced to 1 year for the same offense. “The defendant is fond of guns,” the prosecutor noted.

Attorney Mr. Brenda Brooks told the court that her client most emphatically denies the charges. “He says that he was not with Sammy that day, and his girlfriend’s statements are changing all the time. These are serious accusations and there should be no doubt, but I do not read this in the file. The assumption that my client shot the victim is not enough to sentence him.”

mr. Brooks asked the court to acquit her client.

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