Jury finds accused brothers not guilty in Frydenhoj killing

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ST. THOMAS - Sixteen months after they were arrested and charged with killing a man in Frydenhoj ballpark, brothers Curdilius and Gaius Moncherry on Friday walked out of court free men.

The government's second attempt at convicting the brothers on charges of second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter and first-degree assault proved less successful than the first, which ended in August in a mistrial. The jury Friday found the Moncherry brothers not guilty on all counts after more than a day of deliberations.

The verdict resulted in an emotional scene between the brothers and the discharged jurors, who approached the brothers, hugged and blessed them, and wished them well, according to attorney Leigh Goldman, who defended Gaius Moncherry.

"It was a very emotional scene," Goldman said. "It was very, very, very unusual."

Assistant Attorney General Edward Veronda said it was apparent this was not an easy case for jurors to decide.

"Obviously, this was a tough case for the jury," Veronda said. "The jury clearly looked at all the elements and weighed the evidence carefully, and deliberated for over 10 hours, so their verdict stands as just."

The second iteration of the government's charges against the brothers survived several brushes with dismissal as Goldman and defense attorney Paula Norkaitis, who represented Curdilius Moncherry, asked V.I. Superior Court Judge Brenda Hollar to throw out the charges for lack of evidence.

The prosecution presented a case that depended upon proving a distinct turning point in the brothers' confrontation with the victim, Kerwin Williams. Neither side disputed that Williams slashed Curdilius Moncherry's neck with a knife before the brothers beat him. The government tried to prove that after the knife slash, Williams gave up the fight and became the victim rather than the aggressor and that the brothers pursued Williams and beat him to death in retaliation for the injury to Curdilius Moncherry.

However, defense attorneys argued that the brothers were acting purely in self-defense after Williams, who, according to witnesses, had threatened to kill everyone at the ballpark and who the brothers knew to be violent, cut Curdilius Moncherry's neck.

Curdilius Moncherry testified to that effect on the last day of the trial, and Gaius Moncherry gave a similar statement when Royal Virgin Islands Police detained the brothers on Tortola within a day of the altercation with Williams. The brothers told police in the BVI that they fled St. Thomas in fear of retaliation for beating a man, according to Royal Virgin Islands Police. They said they were attempting to make their way to their native St. Lucia and were charged with illegal entry.

The brothers pleaded guilty to that charge in September 2010 and were sentenced to 12 months in prison. They were extradited to the territory in June 2011.

- Contact reporter Lou Mattei at 714-9124 or email lmattei@dailynews.vi.

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