Defense witnesses provide alibis in murder case


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ST. CROIX - Presenting his defense of Jomar Encarnacion, who is charged with murder in connection with a 2010 shooting, defense attorney Charles Lockwood called two witnesses in V.I. Superior Court on Friday morning who dealt crippling blows to the prosecution's case.

Encarnacion is charged with first-degree murder; felony murder; first-degree robbery; reckless endangerment; and unauthorized use of a firearm during the commission of a crime of violence in connection with the March 2010 shooting death of Misael Morales.

He is accused of shooting Morales in the back of the head as they walked in Castle Coakley with a third man - Chayanne Trinidad - who testified for the prosecution on Wednesday that he witnessed the shooting.

Friday morning, Lockwood called two witnesses - Clarissa Rosario and Juan Parilla - who told the jury that they attended car races on March 20, 2010.

Each witness testified that when they arrived at the car track, they saw Encarnacion there and they exchanged greetings with him.

Rosario and Parilla both testified that they had not known each other before meeting at the courthouse this week, and they both said that Encarnacion had been sitting on a rail about 25 feet from the judges' booth at the car races for most of the night.

Rosario testified that she left the track about 11 p.m. and left Encarnacion there, while Parilla testified that when he left at 1 a.m. the same night, Encarnacion still was at the track.

Prosecutors have charged, based on information from Trinidad, that the murder took place some time about 9 p.m.

Encarnacion's grandmother testified earlier this week that when she left for church that evening about 6:30 p.m., Encarnacion was preparing to go to the track.

V.I. Superior Court Judge Harold Willocks denied a motion Thursday afternoon seeking that murder and related charges against Encarnacion be dismissed on the basis that prosecutors had not proved their case against him.

After the prosecution rested its case, Lockwood made his routine Rule 29 motion saying the only connection between his client and the murder was Trinidad, who is a convicted liar.

Before the prosecution rested its case Thursday morning, Assistant Attorney General Andrette Watson called V.I. Police Lt. Dino Herbert to the stand to give his testimony as the case agent.

Herbert testified that during the course of the investigation, police were able to speak with Trinidad on several occasion and that he initially lied to them, saying he and Morales went their separate ways after hanging out at El Sol Bar for a few hours. He said Trinidad later told police that he was ready to tell the truth and said Encarnacion picked Morales and Trinidad up in Encarnacion's uncle's pickup, and the three of them went to Castle Coakley.

Herbert testified that Trinidad told investigators that, as the three were walking, Encarnacion told him he was going to kill Morales but that Trinidad did not believe him until Encarnacion pulled out a .38-caliber handgun and shot Morales one time in the head.

Initially, Encarnacion and Trinidad both had been charged with the murder, and both told police it was the other man who fired the one gunshot through Morales' head, according to police.

Murder and related charges against Trinidad later were dismissed, and he pleaded guilty to a single count of giving false information to police.

Herbert testified that he never spoke to Encarnacion's grandmother about her telling the two men that he had gone out, and he also did not have any information to investigate Encarnacion's alibi witness.

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

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