Child abuse charges dismissed against couple who admitted to shooting boy with air gun


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ST. CROIX - Charges were dismissed Wednesday against a Frederiksted couple arrested earlier this month on child abuse and related charges stemming from reports that they injured a 10-year-old boy with a pellet gun.

Robin Thomas, 32, and Johnathan Santiago, 31, both of Hannah's Rest, both appeared before V.I. Superior Court Judge Robert Molloy on Wednesday for their scheduled arraignment hearing, but they were advised that a statement of no prosecution was filed in their case.

According to the Attorney General's Office, following the arrest of the couple, additional investigation resulted in a determination that further prosecution in the matter would not be in the interest of justice.

The two were advised that the charges against them would no longer go forward, the bail they had posted was exonerated and all conditions of restraint against them were vacated.

Santiago, who has been a V.I. Corrections officer for the last five years, had been charged with third-degree assault and child abuse, while Thomas was charged with a single count of child neglect after the boy's grandmother took him to Luis Hospital following reports of abuse.

According to the court document filed in the case against the two, V.I. Police Officer Jerome Ashe reported that he was called to investigate an incident in which the boys grandmother reported that she saw black-and-blue marks on the boy's skin when he came to see her. After an inquiry, the boy said Santiago had assaulted him, the grandmother told police.

Ashe said he talked with the boy, who said that he had an airsoft handgun - a replica firearm, or a special type of air gun that fires plastic or environmentally safe pellets - in his hands when he heard Thomas scream and walked into the living room and saw Santiago and Thomas playing.

He said he pointed the airsoft gun at Santiago, and Santiago took it away from him and took him to a bedroom where he began cursing the boy about trying to act like a man.

The boy said Santiago slammed him on a bed, causing his foot to hit the metal frame, then began punching the boy about his face and body with a closed fist.

The boy said Santiago then began shooting him with the airsoft gun as Thomas looked on and did nothing.

Ashe said the couple both gave statements to police and said the boy heard the woman scream inside the house and came to see what was wrong. She said the boy had the gun in hand and pointed it at Santiago. She said she took the pellet gun from him and took the boy back to his room, and at that point, Santiago hit the boy with an open palm, then pushed him in his face, causing him to fall onto the bed, according to the police report.

She said Santiago then took the airsoft gun from the boy and shot him several times on his buttocks area. She admitted to police that she did not do anything and did not check to see whether the boy had been injured, according to the affidavit.

- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email fstokes@dailynews.vi.

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