One of two men wanted in connection with Bethlehem Village shooting turns himself in
Published: September 28, 2013
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ST. CROIX - One of two men police say they are looking for on attempted murder charges stemming from a 2011 shooting incident in Bethlehem Village turned himself in to police Friday morning, but his attorney said police are posturing and trying to paint his client in a negative light.
V.I. Police spokeswoman Melody Rames released information Thursday afternoon saying that police were seeking help from the community to locate Obala Joseph and Brandon Nesbitt, who detectives said are wanted in connection with an attempted murder on Oct. 7, 2011, in Bethlehem Village.
The men fired multiple gunshots at a man and woman, with stray bullets striking a nearby home and almost hitting a young girl, according to an affidavit written by V.I. Police Detective Leon Cruz.
After the picture and information about the crimes were released to the media, Joseph turned himself in to police at 9:53 a.m. Friday.
However, Joseph's attorney, Michael Joseph said he had been calling the investigator on the case since Sunday to arrange for a self-surrender when he heard that his client was wanted.
"I called repeatedly and never got a call back," he said. "Police now want to paint him as a wanted person and give the perception that he was trying to evade capture or prosecution."
Michael Joseph said it has been his practice to go to the station with a client when the officer is there and knows they are coming to avoid sitting and waiting with no detective there to processes the defendant. He said officers knew where Obala Joseph was and could have easily picked him up without issuing a wanted poster.
However, Rames said Friday that as long as someone wants to turn himself in to police they just have to show up at the nearest police station.
"They don't have to call or make an appointment, they just have to show up, that's all he had to do," Rames said.
Two witnesses identified the driver of the car used in the shooting as "Obala" and picked out Obala Joseph in photo arrays, Cruz said.
On Oct. 29, 2011, Cruz saw a two-door red Civic matching the description given and stopped the car, he said. Nesbitt was behind the wheel and admitted he did not have a driver's license, Cruz said. The vehicle and Nesbitt matched descriptions given by witnesses who tied the car to the Mutual Homes housing community.
Witnesses later identified Nesbitt in photo arrays as the second shooter, Cruz said.
In the information filed by the V.I. Attorney General's Office, Deputy Attorney General Bruce Marshack said the men were in possession of an AK-47 assault rifle and a 9 mm handgun.
After spending more than 18 months in prison, the men had been released from prison when the case was dismissed without prejudice last summer after a ruling by V.I. Superior Court Judge Harold Willocks. The judge said that if prosecutors wanted to add additional charges to the case, they would have to file a new case. The dismissal gave prosecutors the option to refile the case with the amended charges against the men, which they have.
Bail for Joseph has been set at $250,000. As of press time Friday, Nesbitt had not been taken into custody.
Rames said detectives are asking the community's help in locating him, and residents who may have seen him can call police at 712-6077 or 712-6037 or call the Crime Stoppers USVI tip line at 1-800-222-8477.
Anyone found harboring Nesbitt or found withholding information about his location can face criminal charges, Rames said.
- Contact Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.