Jury finds man not guilty of weapons charges
Published: October 5, 2012
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ST. CROIX - After just more than an hour of deliberation Thursday afternoon, a jury in District Court found a William's Delight man not guilty of unlawfully possessing a firearm or being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Misael Lima, 24, was arrested just before 8 p.m. Jan. 21 after police said they saw him throw a firearm over a fence during a foot chase with V.I. Police officers in the housing community where he lived.
The jury trial began before District Judge Wilma Lewis on Monday morning, and on Thursday, jurors heard closing arguments from Assistant U.S. Attorney Denise Hinds and defense attorney Yvette Ross Edwards.
Hinds told the jury that when police officers arrived in the area, a group of men were gathered and it is clear from the evidence and witness' testimonies that Lima was the only one who ran. Police had smelled marijuana in the area and at least two people admitted to have been smoking, but when Lima ran, a foot chase ensued, Hinds said.
She said the testimony from the officers were clear that they chased Lima and saw him throw a handgun over a fence as he rounded a corner into a yard and behind some houses.
She said ran to his home, and when officers finally caught up with him, he was at his house pounding on the door, asking his mother to open up.
"For the safety of the officer and his own safety, he used non-lethal force to stop him from getting inside that house, where additional weapons may have been," Hinds said.
She said Lima was taken into custody, and while officers were discussing the firearm, Lima interjected and told them that he would rather be tased than shot because he had been shot before and that was the reason he was carrying the gun.
Edwards reminded jurors of witnesses who said that Lima did not run until he heard one of the police officers say, "grab Lima." Witnesses testified that Lima's hands were swinging as he ran and were empty, she said.
Edwards told the jury to pay attention to the evidence that they had seen and heard and even closer attention to what they had not.
"There was no evidence about any testing for latent fingerprints or any DNA," she said. "They could have tested the bullets or the slide or the magazine for prints or even test for perspiration, but they didn't."
Edwards asked jurors to use their common sense in asking why no testing was done, and use that same common sense to find Lima not guilty.
After the not guilty verdict, Lewis vacated all conditions of restraint against Lima, who had been released on bail.
- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.