Court considers detention for man charged in Sunday Market Square murder
Published: August 27, 2013
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ST. CROIX - V.I. Superior Court Judge Douglas Brady has taken under advisement the matter of pre-trial detention for a man charged in the Aug. 3 fatal shooting in Sunday Market Square in Christiansted.
Julien Viera, 21, is charged with first-degree murder; first-degree assault; third-degree assault; unauthorized possession of a firearm; possession of ammunition; first-degree reckless endangerment; carrying a dangerous weapon during the commission of a crime of violence; and failure to report a firearm brought into the territory stemming from the shooting outside a bar that left Ronald "Chakal" Coulon dead and two other men wounded.
During the initial hearing on Viera's release, prosecutors filed a motion to detain him pending his trial and also said they were seeking forfeiture of the $75,000 bail bond that was posted when Viera was charged in a shootout in Frederiksted early New Year's morning in the Festival Village.
During the hearing Monday, Assistant Attorney General Kippy Roberson called the case agent, V.I. Police Detective Frankie Ortiz, as his sole witness. Ortiz outlined the facts of the probable cause fact-sheet he had filed in court the day after the murder.
From the witness stand Monday, Ortiz said a police officer was flagged down shortly after reports of shots fired in the market area, and while the officer was responding, a purple Honda passed him at a high rate of speed, according to Ortiz' testimony.
Based on reports from witnesses, Viera and Coulon were arguing inside Time Square Bar and were kicked out, Ortiz said. The men continued arguing outside the bar when Viera went to his vehicle, Coulon broke a beer bottle and Viera came back with a gun and opened fire, according to Ortiz.
Police said in addition to killing Coulon, Viera also wounded one man in his buttocks and a third man in his face before fleeing the scene.
Ortiz said a number of officers responded to the scene and helped to work the investigation including checking into a subsequent accident involving the purple Honda from which Viera allegedly retrieved the gun. This was the same car that had passed the officer, and it had crashed about a mile outside of town, Ortiz said.
Witnesses saw a man police believe to be Viera get out of the wreckage and flee on foot, according to Ortiz.
Police said the airbag in the purple car had been deployed, and Viera's blood was smudged all over it.
During a search of the abandoned vehicle, police recovered a Glock .40-caliber pistol with two live rounds and one chambered. They also found a Glock magazine with 25 live rounds and 3 spent casings, a flashlight and five small bags of marijuana.
Ortiz said he found the owner of the vehicle, who also was Viera's girlfriend and was still hospitalized after giving birth a few days before.
Defense Attorney Martial Webster called the woman to the stand and presented her to serve as a possible third-party custodian.
Roberson asked her whether she had given Viera permission to use her vehicle, and she said no. However, she said the key had been left in the car under the mat because she was waiting for a mechanic to come and check some issues on the car.
Both attorneys said they believed they had presented all that the court needed to hear to make a decision on the motion for detention and did not need to file additional briefs in the case.
Roberson said the proof is evident and the burden adequate as a result of the eyewitness testimonies about the incident.
Webster argued that he did not believe the case was one of true murder, saying there was a fight, at least two heated individuals and the shooting that occurred involved no premeditation.
Brady said he will take the matter under advisement and issue an order as promptly as possible.
- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.