St. Croix man gets 2 years for shooting, injuring neighbor

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ST. CROIX - The 23-year old man arrested with his father in December on charges that they shot a man in the face during an argument was sentenced in V.I. Superior Court on Wednesday to two years in prison, while charges against the father were dismissed with prejudice.

Jomahal Sanes, of William's Delight, appeared before V.I. Superior Court Judge Douglas Brady on Wednesday to be sentenced for the first-degree assault on another man in November.

Sanes and his father, Esteban Sanes, 42, of Castle Burke, were arrested Christmas Eve and charged with first-degree assault; carrying or using a dangerous weapon during the commission of a crime of violence; unauthorized possession of a firearm; and reckless endangerment after a man said the two attacked him on Nov. 12 and shot him in his face.

Both men pleaded not guilty to the charges against them.

While Esteban Sanes maintained his innocence, Jomahal Sanes accepted a plea deal and admitted guilt in the case. He was allowed to plead guilty in a multi-jurisdictional global plea to the lesser included charge of third-degree assault in exchange for prosecutors dismissing the more serious charges against him.

Prosecutors also agreed that they would recommend to the court that whatever sentence he is handed in the assault case, he would be able to serve it concurrently with a recommended 24-month sentence to be served in a District Court case that stemmed from a search warrant and investigation following the shooting.

On Monday, Sanes' attorney, Michael Joseph, and Assistant Attorney General Joseph Ponteen indicated to the court that they had agreed to the sentence recommendations and had also discussed them with Assistant U.S. Attorney Alphonso Andrews, who also agreed to the sentencing recommendations.

According to the affidavit in support of the warrant for the men's arrests, the gunshot victim told police he was walking in Castle Burke when he saw both men, who he knew from the area.

The victim said Jomahal Sanes threatened him and said something about a burglary at their house and in an unprovoked attack, pulled out a firearm and shot him in the face.

When police went to execute search and arrest warrants, they said they found six various types of guns, bagged and potted marijuana, ammunition and drug paraphernalia in the home where Jomahal Sanes was asleep with a 16-year-old sibling, which led to the federal charges being filed.

Police said that Jomahal Sanes and the 16-year-old both were taken into custody, and during his booking, Jomahal Sanes admitted that he used one of the guns to shoot the man in Castle Burke and that the guns, drugs and drug paraphernalia belonged to a friend.

He told police that when he approached the man in Castle Burke he was only trying to scare him because he had suspected the man of burglarizing his grandmother's home, but the man grabbed the gun and it discharged, shooting him in the face.

Jomahal Sanes additionally was charged with cultivating marijuana; unauthorized possession of a firearm; possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute; and possession of ammunition.

The case involving the weapons and drugs was transferred to federal court, and last spring, Jomahal Sanes agreed to plead guilty to unauthorized possession of a firearm and manufacturing marijuana near a school - School of the Good Shepherd in William's Delight - where he would have been exposed to 1 to 15 years in prison on the charges combined.

In exchange for the plea, federal prosecutors agreed to dismiss the remaining counts against him, which would have resulted in more significant jail time exposure.

Brady sentenced Jomahal Sanes to 24 months on Wednesday and ordered him to pay just more than $3,000 in restitution for the victim's injuries and medical bills.

A sentencing date has not yet been scheduled in the federal case, but Jomahal Sanes is expected to serve the time in a federal prison, where attorneys said he will be able to avail himself of skills training while he completes the sentence.

While Jomahal Sanes has remained in jail since his arrest, his father, Esteban Sanes, had been released after posting 10 percent of his bail, which had been set at $100,000.

On Wednesday, Brady singed off on the motion filed by prosecutors that dismissed the charges against Esteban Sanes.

- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email

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