3 men charged with pointing guns at ATV riders on St. Croix
Published: July 8, 2014
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ST. CROIX - Three men remain jailed after being identified as the people who pointed firearms at recreational vehicle riders Sunday on Mahogany Road in Frederiksted.
Lawrence Bethel, 22, of Estate Grove Place; Dennier Thomas, 27, of Lorraine Village; and Dwayne Pierre-Louis, 19, of Lorraine Village each appeared Monday before Magistrate Miguel Camacho, who advised them of their rights on charges of third-degree assault; unlawful possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime of violence; aiming or discharging a firearm; possession of ammunition; and failure to report a firearm brought into the territory.
Pierre-Louis additionally was charged with simple possession of a controlled substance and interfering with an officer discharging his duties.
The men were advised that if they are tried and convicted on the charges, they could face up to 40 years in prison and fines totaling more than $40,000.
Camacho initially had found that the probable cause fact sheet filed with the court by V.I. Police Officer Carlton Wakefield and approved for submission by Assistant Attorney General Andrette Watson was deficient, as it did not specifically name the defendants and did not say what conduct any of the men was specifically accused of carrying out.
The document referred only to the defendants as "the man," "the driver" and "another individual." After strong admonishment about the flawed document, Camacho said the prosecutors could have 30 minutes to amend the document to include the defendants' names specifically or he would not find probable cause in the case and would release the men from custody, where they had been held since their arrest.
Assistant Public Defender Lesley Davis objected, saying that the preliminary charging documents must be before the court before 9 a.m. and that the police and prosecution should not have been given additional time to submit the amended documents. She further challenged the document, saying that the mere presence of Bethel and Thomas in the vehicle with Pierre-Louis does not make them guilty of any crimes.
Watson said it was not mere presence, but the call reporting the assault described three individuals and the vehicle they were in.
Camacho noted the objection but said he had then found probable cause for the charges and proceeded to advise the men of the charges and their rights.
According to the revised probable cause fact sheet, police received a call of three men pointing firearms at individuals as they rode all-terrain vehicles in the Frederiksted area. Wakefield said he responded and saw a Blue Chevy Cobalt as described by the complainants in the area of Estate Plessen. He said he conducted a traffic stop and the occupants were ordered out of the car and onto the ground. Pierre-Louis began to comply, then at the last minute, grabbed a backpack from the vehicle and began to run from the area, according to the police report.
Wakefield said he called additional units, and officers were able to apprehend Pierre-Louis with the backpack. A search of the backpack revealed that it contained a black Glock pistol with 14 live rounds and one chambered round; a 9 mm handgun with nine live rounds and one chambered round; and a chrome magazine with 10 additional 9 mm bullets, according to Wakefield's affidavit.
Bail for each of the men was set at $25,000, and Camacho allowed them to post 10 percent of the bond and be released to a third-party custodian. He also ordered that the men have no contact with any witnesses in the case or each other while the case is pending and said the men - who all are unemployed - must seek employment and must abide by a 2 p.m. to 9 a.m. curfew.
Unable to meet the conditions of release set by the court, the men remain jailed.
- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.