V.I. Parole Board will consider release of 35 inmates next week

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ST. CROIX - The Virgin Islands Parole Board is preparing to hold hearings next week where they will consider the release or continued incarceration of almost three dozen inmates serving sentences for violent crimes, including murder.

Darien Wheatley, Parole Board coordinator, said the hearings will begin at 9:15 a.m. at Golden Grove Adult Correctional Facility beginning Monday and run through Thursday.

On the list of 35 inmates to be considered for parole is Akeem Herbert who was 16 years old when he was convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison in August 2008.

Herbert and Asha Felix, then 17, were arrested shortly after they were identified as the two people who broke into a Judith's Fancy home, bound and gagged the homeowner and stole his vehicle and other valuables in March 2007.

Wheatly said Felix also became eligible for parole based on the amount of time he has served in prison, but he has had a recent infraction of rules at the facility that disqualifies him at this time from being able to appeal to the board.

Additionally, Nathaniel Hazel, a convicted murder who also was scheduled for a hearing next week, has been removed from the list, Wheatley said.

Amon Thomas and Nathaniel Thomas also are on the list of parole candidates after serving a portion of their sentences on a conviction in District Court for maintaining drug-involved premises.

The board will also hear a plea by Gregory Turbe who has served a portion of is 15-year sentence on a conviction for being a felon in possession of a firearm as a habitual offender.

While in prison, Turbe was arrested on charges of reckless endangerment; first-degree assault; possession of ammunition; possession of a dangerous weapon during the commission of a crime of violence; unauthorized possession of a firearm; and possession of a firearm with an obliterated serial number following a shooting inside the prison in 2007, during which Turbe was accused of shooting four fellow inmates. Those inmates refused to cooperate with police in the investigation, and the prosecution was forced to dismiss the charges.

Lorne Davis, originally incarcerated for second-degree murder, was granted parole and now may have that parole revoked after a conviction following a reckless endangerment incident in 2009 during which he fired shots at a woman.

Among the list of inmates to be considered for parole are some that had been before the board during its last round of meetings in May, during which 39 inmates were considered, but the board saw it fit to grant approval for only seven of them.

Among the list of people to be considered for the second time in six months are:

- DeShaune Harrigan, who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the mid-day killing of Jason Caroll May 23, 2000 on Main Street on St. Thomas.

- Marvin Dominguez, who was convicted of brutally killing his girlfriend, Ann Patricia Haumacher, at their Smithfield, Frederiksted, apartment in 1999 then burying her in the back yard.

- Alric Simmonds, 67, the former deputy chief of staff for former Gov. Charles Turnbull, who was arrested on more than 100 counts of embezzlement, conversion and conspiracy for stealing more than $1.2 million from the V.I. Bureau of Economic Research's checking account. He pleaded guilty to 10 felony counts and was sentenced to eight years in prison in June 2008. At this point, Simmonds has served half of his sentence and his hearing has been scheduled for Dec. 18.

Other inmates coming up for parole for a second time include convicted murderers Kirk Magras and Lloyd Canegata; rapists Peter Bellot, Conrad Brooks and Hubert Rhymer; and Julio Parilla, who is serving a sentence after being convicted of second-degree murder, conspiracy to commit robbery, weapon possession and assault.

Wheatley said the board is responsible for review hearings on inmates who have been serving prison sentences locally, as well as those who have been sentenced in the District Court by a federal judge.

He said the board is once again extending a public invitation for anyone who is interested in giving information about any of the inmates or wishes to testify at the hearing. Anyone interested in providing information must submit written comments at least 24 hours before the hearing, expressing their desire to speak.

Because of the sensitive nature of some of the cases or the nature of the victim-impact statements, the hearings create an atmosphere that should be protected, so the hearings have not been and are still not opened to the public to come and sit in, but they are open to anyone who wants to testify, Wheatley said.

Wheatley said in making the determination whether to grant parole, the board members look at the severity of the crime and the risk of danger that exists. They also look at what the inmate has done with their time in prison to better their situation and employability as well as their preparations to be reintegrated into society, he said.

An inmate's ability to gather support from family and friends and have signed documents stating that he would have somewhere to live once he is released is another factor, Wheatley said.

However, the factor that weighs heaviest on the parole board's determinations is the impact statements from the victim or their families about how they have been affected, according to Wheatley.

Anyone interested in submitting written comments or requests to testify can send then to Darien Wheatley, Parole Board Coordinator, V.I. Justice Department, 34-38 Kronprinsden Gade, GERS Complex, Second Floor, St. Thomas, V.I., 00802-5712. Comments and requests to testify also can be faxed to 774-9710. Contact Wheatley by phone at 774-5666.

- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email fstokes@dailynews.vi.

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