St. Croix man extradited from Florida to face murder charges


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ST. CROIX - A 24-year-old man taken into custody by federal and local law enforcement officers in Florida almost two weeks ago has been returned to the territory to face murder charges in the shooting death of Wellington Pennyfeather Jr. in Frederiksted on Feb. 1.

Juan Ilarraza was taken into custody in Orlando, Fla., March 13 by officers with the Orange County Sheriff's Department and U.S. Marshals Service after they determined he was the same person wanted by V.I. police who fled the territory to avoid prosecution.

St. Croix Police Chief James Parris confirmed shortly after Ilarraza's arrest that he was taken into custody in connection with Pennyfeather's murder.

A statement issued Thursday by the V.I. Police Department said police had gotten information that Ilarraza was in Orlando, and they tracked him there, where he was arrested and detained.

Ilarraza was extradited back to the territory Thursday afternoon and has been booked on charges of first-degree murder; first-degree assault; third-degree assault; first-degree robbery; unauthorized possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime of violence; failure to report firearms brought into the territory; possession of ammunition; first-degree reckless endangerment; and unauthorized possession of a firearm within 1,000 feet of a school zone.

Three weeks ago - on March 6 - Ronald "Indu" Bogan, 19, of William's Delight, made his initial court appearance in V.I. Superior Court after being arrested and extradited from Puerto Rico also in connection with Pennyfeather's murder.

He was advised of his rights by V.I. Superior Court Judge Harold Willocks on charges identical to those of Ilarraza.

The affidavit in support of the warrants in connection with the crime and arrests remains under seal by court order, making details about the specifics of how the crime was carried out and who may be involved available to only the defense and prosecuting attorneys.

At the time of Pennyfeather's murder, V.I. Police spokeswoman Melody Rames said residents in the Frederiksted area reported hearing multiple gunshots about 7:37 p.m.

When officers arrived on the scene, they found the Pennyfeather's body laying in the road near the intersection of Market and Queen streets.

Rames said witnesses told police Pennyfeather got into an altercation with at least one other man, and when shots were fired, Pennyfeather began to run away from the area, heading south on Queen Street, when he was struck by a bullet and fell to the ground.

Bogan subsequently was arrested with the help of Puerto Rico Police officers, and his bail was set at $1 million.

Bogan entered a not-guilty plea to the charges during the same hearing and remains jailed, unable to post bail.

Rames said Thursday that police believe that at least one additional individual involved in the murder remains at large.

Anyone with information about the shooting can call detectives at 712-6030 or 712-6077 or call the Crime Stoppers USVI confidential tip line at 1-800-222-8477.

Ilarraza is scheduled to make his initial court appearance at 9 a.m. today before Magistrate Miguel Camacho in courtroom 3 at the Almeric Christian Federal Building.

V.I. Superior Court has been closed since Monday afternoon while the Waste Management Authority clears sewer lines adjacent to the building on Queen Mary Highway.

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

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