No new charges filed against 5 boys in Hyde's death
Published: January 3, 2013
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ST. THOMAS - In the 17 days since 65-year-old St. Thomas resident William Hyde died as the result of injuries police say he suffered at the hands of five boys, none of the suspects have been charged with murder.
Following the late-November beating, which left Hyde unconscious and without identification in a bathroom stall at Magens Bay beach, V.I. Police on Dec. 10 and 11 arrested and charged five 16- and 17-year-old suspects with attempted murder; first-degree assault; kidnapping; grand larceny; unauthorized use of a vehicle; possession of stolen property; possession of a stolen vehicle; and two counts each of using a dangerous weapon during a crime of violence.
Hyde was found Nov. 24, unresponsive and without identification. Police said he was beaten after he agreed to give a ride to one of the boys, whom Hyde knew, and four other boys got into Hyde's truck and forced him to drive to Magens Bay, where they attacked him.
Prosecutors say they have been working to update the charges in light of Hyde's death, but nothing new had been filed as of Wednesday.
"I won't discuss the case with you or our strategy, but we are moving in a very deliberate fashion to move the case forward," Chief Deputy Attorney General Wayne Anderson said Wednesday.
St. Thomas-St. John Criminal Division Chief Renee Gumbs-Carty said on Dec. 21 that the case was "still going through the process of being investigated."
"We've already done most of the paperwork here at the Department of Justice," Gumbs-Carty said.
She would not comment specifically about how the charges might change or about the possibility of charging the suspects as adults. Gumbs-Carty said new charges probably would be filed last week.
That never happened.
Anderson, who is one of Gumbs-Carty's supervisors, said Wednesday that the updating process still is ongoing. Any updated charges would likely wait another week, according to Anderson, who said a hearing in the case is scheduled for Jan. 8.
"By then we should know where we're going," Anderson said.
Anderson said he believed the minors still are able to attend school after being advised of their rights and released to their parents, but that this was not a focus for prosecutors.
"That's not our concern," he said. "What concerns me is how we're processing the case to move it forward."
Attorney General Vincent Frazer did not return calls for this story.
Under V.I. law, Family Court automatically has original jurisdiction over any case in which a minor is accused of committing a delinquent act in the territory. Without a court order, law enforcement records in these cases are not public "unless a charge of delinquency is transferred for criminal prosecution," the law states.
The law also states that Family Court, after determining probable cause, "shall" transfer certain cases involving minors age 14 or older "for proper criminal proceedings to a court of competent criminal jurisdiction." Among the cases to which this applies are those involving a minor 14 or older who commits a felony such as murder in the first degree or an attempt to do so; rape in the first degree or an attempt to do so; aggravated rape or an attempt to do so; and possession or use of a firearm in the commission of a crime of violence - "irrespective of whether the minor has been previously adjudicated to be a delinquent."
If a case involves a suspect 14 or older and a crime of first-degree murder, rape, robbery, burglary, arson, aggravated rape, or possession or use of a firearm during a violent crime, but is not covered by the above provision of the law, the attorney general has five days to request the case be transferred to a criminal court and the decision rests with the Family Court judge, the law states.
Professional conduct rules
The American Bar Association's Model Rules of Professional Conduct do not speak specifically to cases such as the beating death of Hyde; however, they do require lawyers to "act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client."
A set of ABA standards specific to prosecutors, while recognizing that the duty of prosecutors is "to seek justice, not merely to convict," also urges prompt prosecution.
"A prosecutor should avoid unnecessary delay in the disposition of cases," the guidelines state. "A prosecutor should not fail to act with reasonable diligence and promptness in prosecuting an accused."
Prosecutors also "should establish standards and procedures for evaluating complaints to determine whether criminal proceedings should be instituted."
The standards include several criteria that a prosecutor may use in deciding whether to prosecute a case, including the prosecutor's reasonable doubt that the accused is in fact guilty and the cooperation of the accused in the apprehension or conviction of others.
- Contact reporter Lou Mattei at 714-9124 or email email@example.com.