Man sentenced to life in prison in fatal Metropolis Night Club shooting

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ST. THOMAS - Keith Dawson Jr.'s family finally got some closure as the man convicted of shooting and killing Dawson was sentenced to life imprisonment Thursday.

V.I. Superior Court Judge Michael Dunston delivered the sentence to Dyhani Heyliger, 24, and denied two of Heyliger's motions, one for acquittal and the other for a new trial.

Heyliger, who has three children in his care, had no prior criminal history before the shooting and killing of Dawson, who Dawson's father said was a distant cousin of Heyliger's.

"This is a tragic situation for all," Dunston said as he delivered the sentence.

Dawson's father, Keith Dawson Sr., was in the court, as were several members of Heyliger's family.

In September, a jury found Heyliger guilty of shooting and killing Dawson, 22, on Dec. 8, 2012, near Metropolis Night Club in Sub Base on St. Thomas.

The jury also found Heyliger guilty of 14 other counts, all in relation to the shooting. Some were in connection with Dawson's murder, while others were in connection with the endangerment of Shaquille Percell, who was with Dawson but was not injured, and the general public.

Aside from convicting Heyliger of first-degree murder, the jury also convicted him of second-degree murder; three counts of first- and third-degree assault; six counts of unauthorized use of a firearm; and one count of reckless endangerment.

Aside from a life sentence, Heyliger also received 30 years of imprisonment and a $25,000 fine. All of Heyliger's sentences are mandatory, and, while he could have, Dunston did not deliver Heyliger any sentences that were not mandatory.

"The young men in this community are killing themselves over ridiculous things," Dunston said when he handed down the sentence.

Heyliger never spoke during the trial, though Percell, who both the prosecution and defense said was the intended target, did.

Percell and Heyliger were outside the Metropolis the night of the incident. Percell was alongside Dawson, and Heyliger was across the street.

When Heyliger saw that Percell was pacing, Heyliger had his brother retrieve Heyliger's gun. It appeared that Heyliger fired shots first, based on video surveillance, and Percell returned fire.

During the gun battle, Dawson was shot in the neck.

Keith Dawson Sr., said that his son died the day before Keith Dawson Sr.'s birthday.

When he took the stand during Heyliger's trial, Keith Dawson Sr. said his son was always a joy to be around, and he even recalled his son and Heyliger playing together as children.

Keith Dawson Sr. did not speak Thursday in court, and instead had Assistant Attorney General Sigrid Sprotte speak on his behalf.

Clive Rivers, attorney for Heyliger, spoke on his client's behalf.

Heyliger was remanded to the V.I. Bureau of Corrections.

- Contact Jenny Kane at 714-9102 or email

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