Brothers go on trial again in 2010 slaying
Published: October 22, 2012
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ST. THOMAS - The Moncherry brothers are set to go on trial again in V.I. Superior Court today - potentially with two new witnesses testifying against them - in connection with the 2010 beating death of Kerwin Williams at Frydenhoj ballpark.
In early August, a jury could not come to a unanimous decision about whether Curdilius Moncherry and his brother, Gaius Moncherry, killed Williams with malice or in self-defense. After a two-and-a-half-day trial, capped off by a dramatic round of closing arguments, the jury deliberated for 11 hours during two days before giving up.
Judge Brenda Hollar declared a mistrial on Aug. 3. Hollar said at the time she believed the jurors were "hung up" on whether the Moncherry brothers acted in self-defense.
The brothers both were charged with second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter and first-degree assault, as well as related weapons charges for Curdilius Moncherry. According to witnesses, Williams slashed Curdilius Moncherry's throat with a knife before the brothers beat him with a baseball bat and a 2-by-4 board.
In the second trial, the prosecution is hoping to bolster its case by presenting two new witnesses over the objections of the brothers' defense counsel.
At the final pretrial conference Friday, attorney Leigh Goldman, who is representing Gaius Moncherry, asked that the two new witnesses be excluded because the prosecution failed to provide information about them until after an agreed-upon deadline. He also said the government failed to provide adequate documentation to prove the immigration status of one of the witnesses.
"We have no record of her existence," Goldman said.
Assistant Attorney General Edward Veronda told Hollar he missed the deadline only because a delivery person failed to bring the documents to Goldman when he was supposed to.
Veronda also addressed what he characterized as a defense theory that prosecutors had "cut a deal" with the witnesses on their immigration status in exchange for testimony against the Moncherry brothers. Veronda said this was not the case and pointed to a court filing in which he attested to the fact both witnesses are naturalized U.S. citizens. Veronda said he called U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to verify both witnesses' status.
"I'm offended that attorney Goldman would insinuate anything else," Veronda said. "This is information we have from ICE. They're naturalized citizens. No deal was made."
Hollar suggested the defense counsel issue a subpoena to the witness in question to bring documents verifying her citizenship to the trial today. After further discussion on the difficulty of serving a subpoena by the close of business Friday, the attorneys agreed that the witness could be served at the start of the trial and allowed to return, along with the documents, for cross-examination by defense counsel.
Veronda also addressed another defense theory regarding a traffic stop involving the same witness. He said the witness was issued a $25 ticket for driving without a license plate. After the ticket was written, the woman told the officer she had some information on the Moncherry case.
The driver then went to a store to secure the hardware to attach her license plate properly and returned to show the officer. The officer, in turn, voided the ticket because the woman took corrective action.
"There was no deal, there was no quid pro quo," Veronda said. "If they want to say with a straight face that she came forward for a $25 ticket, I can't stop them."
Goldman said he was not trying to insinuate anything, but he added questions over the time line related to the ticket. He said the traffic stop occurred in mid-September, and supplemental reports relaying the facts laid out by Veronda were not written until last week.
Goldman also said the ticket issue and the immigration issue go beyond whether or not a deal was made. He said the witness' behavior, including the possibility that the witness could be seeking special treatment from the government in exchange for testimony, could be equally prejudicial to his client.
Hollar did not address the issue other than to question why police officers are voiding tickets after they are written.
"I don't know what the authority is to be voiding tickets once they're given to the defendant," Hollar said.
She said many of the questions raised Friday would be appropriate for cross-examination during the trial.
- Contact reporter Lou Mattei at 714-9124 or email email@example.com.