Judge deems murder suspect a flight risk, sets bail at $750K


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ST. THOMAS - The man who police said stabbed a St. Thomas woman and left her body in a wrecked car made his initial appearance in court on Monday.

Adisa Bertrand, 33, appeared before V.I. Superior Court Judge Kathleen Mackay to be advised of his rights on first-degree murder and other charges. A butcher knife was among the items found in the vehicle containing the body of 24-year-old Shantee Seivewright on Friday night.

Seivewright was lifeless when V.I. police recovered her body at about 10:15 p.m. Friday from the wrecked vehicle. She had suffered several stab wounds that were not related to the wreck, according to police.

Slightly more than three hours later, police arrested Bertrand.

During Monday's hearing, more than two dozen sets of eyes were on Bertrand. Family and friends of Seivewright lined the courtroom benches, some of them shaking their heads and some of them crying quietly.

Bertrand, who wore an oversized red jumpsuit, shivered in his seat, looking back at the crowd a handful of times.

Mackay set Bertrand's bail at $750,000 and said he is a flight risk and danger to the community.

Bertrand, who has been living in the Chocolate Hole area of St. John for the last seven years, is in the territory illegally, making him an even greater flight risk, according to V.I. Assistant Attorney General Sigrid Tejo-Sprotte. He originally is from Dominica, Mackay said.

Bertrand is facing a slew of charges, including first-degree murder, which carries a mandatory life imprisonment sentence, Tejo-Sprotte said. He also is charged with one count of second-degree murder; manslaughter; first-degree assault; three counts of third-degree assault; and six counts of possession of a deadly weapon during the commission of a violent crime.

V.I. Police first charged Bertrand upon his arrest about 1:30 a.m. Saturday, when they found him covered in blood at El Cubano bar, where patrons had been calling 911 dispatchers about him and his behavior, according to the probable cause fact sheet filled out by V.I. Police Det. Dwight Griffith.

Bertrand at the time was talking about killing himself, the fact sheet said, and did not initially respond to officers' questions.

However, after being transported to Schneider Hospital, Bertrand started making "excited utterances" and thereafter "admitted several times his involvement in the murder of Shantee Seivewright," Griffith wrote.

It is unclear, based on the probable cause fact sheet, how exactly Bertrand said that he was involved.

Bertrand's bail may be removed depending on the papers filed by U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, Tejo-Sprotte said.

Bertrand's attorneys, Paula Norkaitis and Julie Smith Todman, argued that Bertrand had a cousin in the territory, which would make him less of a flight risk were they able to reach her.

Bertrand also told Mackay that, though he currently is unemployed, he had been working as a heavy-equipment operator for more than six years on St. John, up until a few weeks ago.

Bertrand remains in custody, unable to post bond.

- Contact Jenny Kane at 714-9102 or email jkane@dailynews.vi.

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