Jury selection for murder trial on St. Croix begins today

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ST. CROIX - Jury selection is expected to take place today in the case where Leo Lubrin is charged in the Aug. 11, 2011, shooting death of Christopher Rice in Lorraine Village.

The case is being heard by V.I. Superior Court Judge Douglas Brady. Lubrin, 23, faces charges of first-degree murder, first-degree reckless endangerment, unauthorized use of a firearm during a violent crime, using a dangerous weapon during a violent crime and failure to report a firearm brought into the Virgin Islands.

According to a police report filed in court by Police Detective Kirk Fieulleteau, six men - including Rice and Lubrin - were gambling between Buildings 5 and 6 at Lorraine Village on Aug. 11 when an argument led to Rice's killing.

According to witness accounts, shortly before 11 p.m., Lubrin became upset with the outcome of one of the games and began shouting, with at least one person saying they heard him yell: "You all better get from here because somebody go'n' be dead tonight," according to court documents. Lubrin then ran to his nearby apartment and returned a short time later with a gun, according to police.

Most of the other men had run off from the area, but Rice, 19, was standing on the walkway between the buildings holding onto his bike when Lubrin began firing, according to Fieulleteau's affidavit. Most witnesses estimated that Lubrin fired five or six gunshots, and Rice was struck twice in the chest, according to the detective's affidavit.

Rice was unresponsive by the time responders arrived, police said.

Based on reports, investigators were quickly led to Lubrin and he surrendered himself to police for questioning later that night after his mother informed him that police were looking for him. He was later arrested.

At the time of his initial court appearance, V.I. Superior Court Judge Donohue Sr. ordered Lubrin's bail, which had been set at $1 million, be reduced to $20,000 to accommodate the posting of two properties, each valued at $20,000, as his bond. The judge mandated that Lubrin wear an electronic and GPS monitoring device and be confined to 24-hour house arrest, except to visit his attorney, appear before the court or because of a medical emergency.

Another man who had been involved in the dice game, 23-year-old Shevron Percival, was arrested and charged during the continued investigation of the murder.

Percival was in custody at Golden Grove Adult Correctional Facility when officers arrested him. He had been held since Aug. 29, 2011, in connection with an armed robbery in Lorraine Village on May 10, 2011.

When police contacted Percival, he told police he had been at the scene of the crime, saw what happened, but would not cooperate, Fieulleteau said.

Prosecutors said Percival was culpable for the crime "by admitting to being present during the killing of Christopher Rice to police investigators and refusing to provide information."

Percival maintained his silence and was convicted by a jury of misprision of a felony.

If convicted, Lubrin could spend the rest of his natural life in prison on the first-degree murder charge alone.

His attorney, Michael Joseph, has filed a motion with the court that essentially challenges the charge of first-degree murder, saying he anticipates that even in the light most favorable to the prosecution, the evidence in the case, at best, would be a case of second-degree murder.

Joseph said first-degree murder implicates a pre-existing reflection and careful thought, and second-degree murder involves an unconsidered or rash impulse hastily executed - just as witnesses have described events the night Rice was killed.

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

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