Delay in paperwork means St. Croix man accused of leaving young children in bush will go free until charges are re-filed
Published: September 12, 2013
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ST. CROIX - A statement of no prosecution was filed Wednesday in V.I. Superior Court in the case of a 29-year-old man arrested last month who was charged with endangering the lives of his two children.
Rolando Watley, of Estate Strawberry appeared before Magistrate Miguel Camacho to be formally charged with one count of child neglect in the criminal information, but at that time, Assistant Attorney General Charlotte Poole Davis addressed the court, saying that a statement of no prosecution had been filed in the case.
The filing means that the V.I. Attorney General's Office was not prepared to go forward with the formal charging of the crimes on Wednesday, and by law, the defendant must be arraigned two weeks after the arrest or the charges must be done away with and re-filed. Watley was arrested Aug. 21.
Davis said the statement of no prosecution was filed in the case because the V.I. Police Department and the detective responsible for the case had not filed the necessary paperwork on time. She said the non-filing could have been a result of a number of factors, but the case likely will be re-filed against Watley in the near future.
According to an affidavit filed in court by V.I. Police Detective Gregory Charlery, the charges arose when the mother of Watley's children - who are 6 and 8 years old - said she was walking with them in the parking lot of the apartment complex where she lives when Watley approached them and told the children that he was taking them with him.
The woman said she reminded Watley that she has physical custody of the children and he is not allowed to take them without her permission, according to the affidavit.
Charlery said Watley took the children as the woman yelled to a nearby security officer for help.
She said Watley got behind the wheel of the car and drove away, striking the guard with the vehicle, causing him to fall to the ground, according to the report. The guard then chased him in a private vehicle and called in to emergency dispatchers to alert police officers of the incident and put an all-points bulletin out for Watley and the vehicle, according to the report.
Police joined the search for the man and children and ultimately found the children by themselves in a bushy area in Upper Love.
Charlery said Watley had abandoned the children on the bushy road, but they were unharmed when police found them.
Watley declined to give a statement and was arrested on the single charge.
No charges were brought against Watley in connection with reckless driving or the security officer being struck by the vehicle.
During Watley's advice-of-rights hearing last month, bail was set at $10,000, he was ordered to provide a third-party custodian and he was allowed to have only supervised visits with the children in the company of someone approved by the court.
Watley had ultimately met the conditions of bail, but with the filing of the statement of no prosecution in the case, the conditions of restraint against him were vacated and his bail was exonerated.
- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.