Mother of murder victim faces assault charges after fight with her own mom

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ST. THOMAS - The mother of a young man who was shot and killed a month ago appeared in court on Wednesday facing assault charges.

Derecia Percell, 42, has long battled mental illness, according to her attorney, Kwame Motilewa, from the Territorial Public Defender's Office.

Her illness has only been exacerbated by the loss of her son, Shaquille Percell, her mother, Beatrice Percell, told the court.

On Tuesday night, V.I. Police arrested Derecia Percell, who has been mourning the loss of her son. Shaquille Percell, who also was known as "Reds," was shot and killed July 28 while sitting in a chair near the Percells' home in Kirwan Terrace.

The 21-year-old was a key witness in a September 2013 murder case against Dyhani Heyliger, who was 23 when he shot and killed Keith Dawson Jr. on Dec. 8, 2012, in front of the Metropolis Nightclub in Sub Base on St. Thomas.

A jury found Heyliger guilty of first- and second-degree murder, among other charges. The first charge carries a mandatory life imprisonment sentence.

Percell testified that Dawson had been a bystander in the shootout, which was between Percell and Heyliger.

On Wednesday, Beatrice Percell said that her daughter - who has suffered from mental illness for 14 years - had been in a more agitated state since Shaquille Percell's death.

On Tuesday night, Derecia Percell attacked her mother, according to the probable cause fact sheet, after Derecia Percell skipped her morning dose of medication.

The last time she took her medication was about 8 p.m., according to police.

"I was hungry. There was no food in the house," Derecia Percell said to V.I. Superior Court Magistrate Henry Carr III, noting that she was ordered to take her medication only after having eaten food first.

As a result, Derecia Percell went to a neighbor's home to find food, according to the probable cause fact sheet. Thereafter, her mother scolded her, telling her that she should not ask people for things.

Derecia Percell became violent, and her mother grabbed a broomstick to defend herself, and another family member then intervened, police reported.

While Assistant Attorney General Brenda Scales expressed her concern about the release of Derecia Percell, Carr insisted that, considering her medical issues, she would be better off at home than in jail.

Beatrice Percell told Carr that she would appreciate her daughter's release, though she also asked that the court assist her in finding a better long-term solution, such as a home-care facility, for her daughter.

"She's my children, and I love her," Beatrice Percell said.

- Contact Jenny Kane at 714-9102 or email

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