Trial delayed for 5 boys charged with beating man to death


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ST. THOMAS - The fate of five boys accused in a gruesome murder case has been delayed to later this month, though it is expected to be pushed to an even later date.

N'Kai Colon, Jelani Gumbs, Dionno Brooks, Khalif Francis and Jequan Joseph all are facing murder charges after their arrest following the brutal beating of 65-year-old William Hyde on Nov. 23, 2012.

The boys, all of whom were minors at the time of the incident, are facing charges of first-degree murder; second-degree murder; assault; use of weapons in a violent crime; kidnapping; possession of stolen property; and aiding and abetting.

However, the boys' attorneys are fighting the first-degree murder charges in hopes of eliminating them altogether before the boys are sent to trial, which initially was scheduled to begin this week.

Trial currently is set for 9 a.m. April 22, though it likely will be moved to later in the summer.

V.I. Superior Court Judge Adam Christian has yet to issue a decision on whether he will dismiss the first-degree murder charges. The trial could be moved to June or July, said Russell Pate, attorney for Brooks.

Arguing that the first-degree murder charge is unconstitutional based the ages of their clients - some of whom still are minors - defense attorneys said during earlier hearings that it would be unconstitutional if their clients are convicted of first-degree murder, since it is accompanied by a mandatory life imprisonment sentence.

The defense attorneys are looking to a U.S. Supreme Court case from 2012, Miller v. Alabama, in which the court maintained that a minor should not be sentenced to life in prison without additional consideration for the minor's age and the circumstances of the crime that the minor is found guilty of committing.

However, the V.I. Code does not allow for the Superior Court to make such considerations, according to defense attorneys.

In September, all of the attorneys filed motions to have the first-degree murder charges dismissed. Christian is expected to release an opinion on the matter within coming weeks, Pate said.

Attorney Namosha Boykin is representing Gumbs; Donnie King is representing Colon; Samuel Joseph is representing Francis; and Darren John-Baptiste is representing Joseph.

Until the high-profile case goes to trial, the boys are under house arrest and are attending online school.

All five defendants are being tried as adults despite multiple appeals from their attorneys.

The prosecution, which is represented by Assistant Attorney General Quincy McCrae, is maintaining that each of them had different roles in Hyde's death, according to court documents.

According to police, Hyde had worked as Colon's boss at Gourmet Gallery, and the two had an intimate relationship.

Colon decided he wanted to end it with Hyde on Nov. 23, 2012, and persuaded his four friends to join him in Hyde's beating, according to court documents citing statements Brooks made to police Dec. 10, 2012.

The young men, between the ages of 14 and 18 at the time of the attack, called Hyde and asked him for a ride, according to court documents. They then took his vehicle and forced him to go to Magens Bay Beach and beat him until he was near death, according to court documents.

Hyde died from his injuries in a stateside hospital about three weeks later.

- Contact Jenny Kane at 714-9102 or email jkane@dailynews.vi.

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