Top Superior Court judge toughens murder sentence
Published: September 3, 2013
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ST. CROIX - In a case of a murder sentence handed down by former Superior Court Judge Julio Brady was considered extremely lenient, V.I. Superior Court Presiding Judge Darryl Donohue Sr. has issued an order clarifying the sentence and modifying it to add an additional 10 years to the sentence.
Edwin Encarnacion had been facing two life sentences in prison in connection with two separate murders, but in October of last year, he skirted those mandatory sentences by accepting a global plea offer from prosecutors allowing him to plead guilty to lesser included crimes of voluntary manslaughter and second-degree murder in exchange for prosecutors dismissing all other charges.
Encarnacion, 33, faced first-degree murder charges in two separate cases: the Aug. 14, 2010, stabbing and burning of 45-year-old Jorge Parilla, who had limited use of his legs; and the shooting death of 41-year-old David Martin a few weeks later on Sept. 21, 2010.
Encarnacion also faced attempted murder and other charges - all of which prosecutors also dismissed in exchange for the plea - in connection with a fight at Golden Grove Adult Correctional Facility last year.
When Brady handed down a 10-year sentence in manslaughter and second-degree murder cases, prosecutors filed a motion saying the sentence was overly lenient and requested the modification. The prosecution's motion yielded no response from defense attorney Hannibal O'Bryan, according to the order.
Prosecutors argued that because the judge had received only the pre-sentencing report relative to Martin's murder, Brady may have confused the charges and handed down the murder sentence thinking the charge was arson.
Donohue said the 10-year sentence for second-degree murder appears shorter than many convictions under the same statute in this jurisdiction. The sentence maximum on an arson conviction is 20 years, while the number of years on a second-degree murder plea is infinite.
The transcript from the sentencing hearing confirms that there was some confusion on Brady's part of what the second charge was, according to court documents.
During the sentencing, Brady had stated that the crimes were particularly heinous and the sentence was to serve as a deterrent.
However, the short sentence addressed neither of those issues, according to Donohue's order.
"The undersigned does not believe the sentence imposed is consistent with the court's statement at the sentencing hearing," Donohue wrote. "The court will modify the sentence on the second-degree murder charge to 20 years and have it run consecutively to the manslaughter charge."
During the sentencing hearing last month, O'Bryan told the court that Encarnacion grew up in a very bad home environment, where he tried marijuana for the first time at the age of 10.
Encarnacion's dependency on drugs and his lack of education led him to commit the crimes that he did, O'Bryan said and asked for concurrent five-year sentences on each of the charges.
Assistant Attorney General Tom Sedar then addressed the court, saying that the sentencing is difficult to handle because the emotions of the families are fueled with a lot of anger. Sedar said that in asking for a sentence to be imposed, he has to think of rehabilitation, deterrence and punishment, but he does not believe that Encarnacion is capable of being rehabilitated.
Sedar asked to court for the maximum 10-year sentence in Parilla's death and for a consecutive 100-year sentence for Martin's murder.
When the sentence was imposed, a half-dozen family and friends stormed out of the courtroom, saying they were disgusted by the light sentence.
As had been pointed out by the court, they said Parilla and Encarnacion were friends, and Parilla had been wheelchair-bound at the time he was brutally stabbed, then burned in his home.
After Parilla was murdered, Encarnacion was the subject of an islandwide manhunt on St. Croix before he was captured by V.I. Police officers shortly after he killed Martin.
Police said Encarnacion was inside Martin's beverage van in Campo Rico on Sept. 21, 2010, and when Martin opened the door about 11:30 a.m. and found Encarnacion there with a rusty revolver in his hand, Encarnacion opened fire.
Martin was shot in the head, chest and groin, police said.
- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email email@example.com.