St. Croix robbery suspects remain in jail with bail set at $75,000
Published: January 15, 2013
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ST. CROIX - Three men arrested just hours after police said they carried out two different robberies remain jailed Monday, unable to meet conditions of release set forth by the court.
Rusiel Encarnacion, 29, of Estate Whim; Edwin Hendrickson, 27, of Hannah's Rest; and Francisco Hassell, 27, of Estate Whim all appeared before Magistrate Judge Miguel Camacho to be advised of their rights on charges of first-degree robbery, carrying a dangerous weapon during the commission of a crime of violence, unauthorized possession of a firearm, grand larceny, brandishing a deadly weapon, third-degree assault, failure to report a firearm brought into the territory and possession of ammunition.
The men were arrested in connection with an armed robbery reported near a Peter's Rest bar and a second robbery in Christiansted town.
In the first incident, three men reported to police that three men, now identified as Hassell, Encarnacion and Hendrickson, robbed them at gunpoint.
The men said they were sitting near the entrance to the bar with their backs turned to the inside of the bar when they saw the men enter, according to the police report generated by V.I. Police Detective Antonette Sergeant.
A few minutes later, they heard a gun crack and saw one of the men coming toward them with a gun pointed.
One of the victims told police the gunman ordered him not to move and demanded his gold and silver jewelry, cellular phone and wallet. A second man told police that when the men approached and demanded their valuables, he refused, saying that he worked too hard for his belongings and would not turn them over.
The victims gave a general description of the armed men, and one victim was able to tell police that he recognized Encarnacion from having served time with him in Golden Grove Adult Correctional Facility. The victims also gave police a description of the silver Toyota Corolla that the gunmen used to flee the scene of the robbery, according to the report.
In the second incident, which police said took place about an hour after the first robbery, two men said they were walking on Education Street in Christiansted when they were robbed at gunpoint.
The victims told police that a silver Toyota Corolla passed them, before turning into the yard on Education Street. The men said they kept walking and two men ran at them from the car with guns drawn and demanded their valuables.
The men said the gunmen, who police identified as Encarnacion and Hendrickson took their gold chains and money and left.
Police issued an all-points bulletin for the silver Toyota, which officers stopped shortly after the second robbery, and found the occupants, who matched the description of the robbers. Police searched the car and also found three fully loaded handguns and extra bullets and items that had been reported stolen from the men outside the bar in Peter's Rest.
During Monday's advice-of-rights hearing, Camacho advised Encarnacion, Hendrickson and Hassell that if they were tried and convicted on the charges against them, they could face up to 85 years in prison.
Camacho also advised Hendrickson and Encarnacion that they had been charged in connection with the second robbery with first-degree robbery, carrying a dangerous weapon during the commission of a crime of violence, unauthorized possession of a firearm, grand larceny, possession of stolen property, third-degree assault, failure to report a firearm brought into the territory and possession of ammunition.
Assistant Public Defender Hanibal O'Bryan told the court that he would file a motion for release at a later date on behalf of Hendrickson and Encarnacion.
On behalf of Hassell, O'Bryan asked the court to allow his release on an unsecured bond in the amount of bail to the third-party custody of his life partner and placed on 24-hour house arrest with the use of an electronic monitoring device.
Camacho said he had issues with the proposed custodian because her car was used in the robberies and also it is where the guns and stolen property were found, which makes her a potential witness if the case goes to trial.
The judge said because guns were involved and because of Hassell's extensive criminal history, the court also would require a posting of at least 10 percent of the bail amount in cash or twice the amount in a property bond.
"These are very serious crimes, and he has had seven arrests and one felony conviction," Camacho said. "There must be some surety posted, then he can be on the 24-hour house arrest with electronic monitoring."
Encarnacion also has an extensive criminal history, with 10 arrests in the last 12 years for serious crimes, including burglary, assault, grand larceny, weapon possession, robbery and murder. He was acquitted on the murder charge in 2011.
A renewed motion for release for Hassell is expected to be made at 9 a.m. today.
- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email email@example.com.