Vesuvius-appeals set for August

POSTED: 06/20/13 11:09 AM

No new developments during pro forma hearing

St. Maarten – The Common Court of Justice held a pro forma hearing at the Belair Community Center yesterday afternoon for the seven defendants in the Vesuvius-case. Only two defendants made an appearance: Erno Labega and Ekron Morgan. The court hearing dealt with formalities in preparation for the appeals hearing that will begin on Monday August 26 and conclude by the end of that week on Friday August 30.

Security at the Belair Community Center seemed more relaxed than last year during the trial in the Court in First Instance. There were still officers on the roof of the building, and the two defendants that were brought before the judges were still in handcuffs, guarded by arrest team officers whose faces were covered with balaclavas, but the array of steel barriers that separated the defendants from the empty public tribune were missing.

The Vesuvius-case is about the murders of Hector Miguel and Rodolfo Arrindell in 2011, the murders of Eric lake and Kevin Gumbs and the attempts on the lives of Omax Bye – generally considered the murdered of Amador Jones – and Kennedy Fergus.

Omar Jones and Carlos Richardson are serving life sentences for the murder-spree – a violent retaliation after the murder of Omar Jones’ brother Amador on April 16, 2011. That murder in turn was inspired by a struggle between the Jones and the Arrindell-gangs with the local drugs market as the main prize. Amador Jones reportedly stole drugs from the Arrindells, demanded a “criminal tax” for its return and got murdered instead. The Arrindells paid for their scheme with their lives, as did Eric Lake and Kevin Gumbs whom Jones thought had been instrumental to his brother’s murder.

Erno Labega was sentenced to 6 years for his role in the criminal organization of Omar Jones. His attorney Peggy Ann Brandon asked the court for another interview with Charles Fleming as a witness in his case, because she claimed Fleming had clammed up in front of the Judge of Instruction during an earlier interview “because the judge wanted to put words in his mouth.”

Solicitor-General Clarell Hato-Williams objected to a new interview and the court decided to make note of the defense’s objections against the way the interview had gone down.

Attorney Ralph Richardson brought his request for the appointment of a telecom expert to the court’s attention. The attorney wants to establish that his client Ekron Morgan – who is serving an 8-year prison sentence – was not in Cole Bay but in Philipsburg at the time of the murder of Hector Miguel Arrindell. Cell phone data indicated that Morgan’s phone used a cell tower in Cole Bay at the time, but attorney Richardson contests that cell phones always make use of the nearest tower.

Attorney Brenda Brooks urged the court to instruct the Judge of Instruction to put some pressure on the request to interrogate Amador Jones-killer Omax Bye in St. Kitts. Bye is detained there, but St. Maarten does not have a treaty with St. Kitts that obliges the local authorities to cooperate with a request for judicial assistance. According to Brooks there are informal ways, like a direct contact with the prison where Bye is detained, to bring about an interview with Bye.

Brooks is the attorney for Omar Jones and Carlos Richardson and, together with Marije Vaders, also the attorney for Daniel Thomas who is currently serving a 7-year prison sentence.

It appears that attorney Geert Hatzmann has desisted as the attorney for Charles Fleming, who was sentenced in 2012 to 5 years. His case is now in the hands of mr. Safira Ibrahim.
mr. Cor Merx defends Andrew Davis, who is serving a 6-year sentence.

The court set the trial date for all defendants for Monday August 26.

 

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