Coki Point shooter wins appeal
Published: September 3, 2013
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ST. THOMAS - The V.I. Supreme Court has upheld an appeal made by Steve Tyson to reverse convictions of third-degree assault and unauthorized possession of a firearm that he had in connection with a shooting that took place just a month before Tyson shot and killed two people, including a 15-year-old tourist, at Coki Point beach in July 2010.
No one was injured during the June 2010 shooting, which preceded the unrelated shooting in which Tyson shot and killed Liz Marie Perez Chaparro, 15, and Shaheel Joseph Jr., 18.
Chaparro was visiting St. Thomas on a cruise ship with her family to celebrate her 15th birthday.
Joseph was walking to a burial service for a friend at the Coki Point cemetery, according to court documents.
Tyson received two life sentences for the fatal shootings of Chaparro and Joseph after he was convicted of first-degree murder in July 2011.
Prior to the Coki Point beach murders, Tyson was facing charges of third-degree assault, possession of an unlicensed firearm, and charges of unlawfully discharging a weapon.
Last week, the V.I. Supreme Court reversed the assault and possession convictions, remanding them back to the V.I. Superior Court. The high court upheld Tyson's conviction on the discharging a weapon conviction.
In an opinion written by Associate Justice Ive Swan, the Supreme Court found insufficient evidence to sustain a guilty verdict for third-degree assault, as well as insufficient evidence to prove that Tyson was not authorized to carry a weapon.
In the case, Tyson was accused of shooting at Linton Rabsatt, the brother of Tyson's girlfriend at the time, Letisha Rabsatt, on June 30, 2010.
According to documents, Tyson was in his car with Letisha Rabsatt when her brother arrived in his car. Linton Rabsatt confronted his sister, telling her that Tyson should not be on the property because he had a previous altercation with Tyson.
Tyson left in his car, but stopped in the road while leaving to tell Linton Rabsatt that he should not be at the property when Tyson returned, according to court documents.
When Tyson returned 15 minutes later, he revved his engine when he saw Linton Rabsatt still was there. Tyson then drove down the road, about 50 feet and stopped in a vegetated area.
Linton Rabsatt, seeing that Tyson had stopped, drove up the road to get a better vantage point so that he could see Tyson. Linton Rabsatt then heard four shots fired from the direction where he saw Tyson.
In the Supreme Court's opinion, Swan said that the evidence was insufficient to prove that Tyson intended to hurt Linton Rabsatt or that he could hurt Linton Rabsatt even if he wanted to given the distance between the two.
However, the Supreme Court ruled that there was sufficient evidence of Tyson's conviction of unlawful discharge of a weapon because laboratory results tested positive for gunshot residue on Tyson after the incident and shell casings were found at the scene.
While vacating the assault and weapons possession convictions, the high court remanded the weapon discharge conviction back to the Superior Court for sentencing on the single charge.
Tyson currently is serving two life sentences for the murders of Chaparro and Joseph.
- Contact Jenny Kane at 714-9102 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.