V.I. Corrections officer charged with assault cuts himself on knife in fight with woman

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ST. THOMAS - V.I. Police arrested a corrections officer after the officer was accused of attacking a woman before she came at him with a kitchen knife.

Joseph Smith, 24, appeared in court Friday morning, just hours after his arrest, with his hand wrapped in thick bandages. Smith is charged with simple assault and disturbance of the peace.

V.I. Superior Court Magistrate Henry Carr III set Smith's bail at $1,000 with no 10 percent provision.

V.I. Police officer Elesa Francis said she responded to a report of assault at an apartment in Amalie Terrace in Hospital Ground at 11:49 p.m. Thursday, though Francis reported that the argument broke out about 20 minutes earlier, according to her probable cause fact sheet.

Upon arriving at the scene, a large amount of blood was spread across the floor, Francis wrote in the fact sheet. She spoke with a boy who was present at the scene and who had called the police, she reported.

The boy told Francis that Smith and the woman had been arguing, and the woman repeatedly asked Smith to leave the premises. Smith threw a cell phone at the woman, striking her in the head, after which he tried to hit her, the boy said.

According to the woman's later account, which she told Francis after Francis drove the woman to Schneider Hospital, the woman said she repeatedly had told Smith to leave, and when he finally started to leave, he tried to take some of her personal belongings and put them in his pockets.

Smith then pushed her, and she pushed back, the woman told Francis, so the woman went outside to Smith's car and took his credit cards out.

When Smith was leaving through the door of the apartment, the woman went back in, but Smith saw as the woman returned that she had his cards, the woman told Francis.

The woman went back in the apartment and shut the door, but she reopened it when Smith began knocking, the woman said. She opened the door then to give back the credit cards, and Smith forced his way in, after which she again repeated that he needed to leave, the woman reported.

The victim then "stated that she could see the anger in the defendant's face, and she went to the kitchen for a knife," Francis wrote. "She raised her hand with the knife, and the defendant reached for the knife but grabbed the blade instead of the handle and sliced his hand."

Smith then pushed the woman, cursed at her and "let his blood drip on her clothes," Francis wrote.

The woman told Francis that Smith then tried to strangle her, bit her arm and told her that if she found a boyfriend, Smith would kill her and the boyfriend.

Francis took the stand in V.I. Superior Court before Carr on Friday, at which point Smith's attorney, Territorial Public Defender Samuel Joseph, asked Francis whether she is friends with the woman.

Francis answered, "No."

It is unclear whether Smith also was taken to Schneider Hospital, and it was not stated at which corrections facility Smith is employed. Carr ordered that Smith's firearms - those associated with his profession and others he owns - be confiscated pending the outcome of the case.

Assistant Attorney General Brenda Scales said this is not the first time that Smith has been accused of assault.

Francis testified that the same victim has made three reports in the last year and a half of Smith abusing her.

However, police did not arrest Smith previously because the victim did not want to make a statement to law enforcement, Francis said.

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

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