V.I. Supreme Court overturns conviction of man charged with concealing a crime

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ST. CROIX - Last spring, a V.I. Superior Court jury took just over an hour before they convicted Shevron Percival of concealing knowledge of a felony for refusing to provide investigators with information about a 2011 murder in Lorraine Village.

However, the V.I. Supreme Court issued an opinion Wednesday reversing the conviction, saying there was not enough evidence to warrant the conviction in the case. Prosecutors had charged that Percival was present on Aug. 11, 2011, when 19-year-old Christopher Rice was shot multiple times in Lorraine Village housing community.

Percival was in custody at Golden Grove Adult Correctional Facility when officers arrested him. He had been held since Aug. 29, 2011, in connection with an armed robbery in Lorraine Village on May 10, 2011. He later was convicted in that robbery case.

Shortly after Rice was murdered, police arrested 21-year-old Leo Lubrin Jr., who police said witnesses identified as the gunman. Lubrin was charged with first-degree murder; first-degree reckless endangerment; unauthorized use of a firearm during a violent crime, using a dangerous weapon during a violent crime; possession of ammunition; and failure to report a firearm brought into the territory.

Rice, Lubrin and Percival all lived in Lorraine Village and police said that six men - including Rice, Percival and Lubrin - were gambling between buildings 5 and 6 and an argument that arose from the dice game led to Rice's killing.

Lubrin went to trial on the charges and was granted a motion for dismissal during the trial after the prosecution had not presented any witnesses who said they saw Lubrin shoot Rice.

In the V.I. Supreme Court's ruling handed down this week, the justices said the conviction for the crime of misprision of a felony based upon Percival's refusal to disclose the details of a killing he witnessed, is reversed because there was insufficient evidence to find him guilty of the elements of this offense.

The order said since the information clearly charged a violation of the section that speaks to providing express notice of the crime charged, Percival's argument on appeal is construed as contesting the sufficiency of the evidence.

"The terms of the title are not ambiguous or vague," the order read. "This section unambiguously criminalizes only the willful concealment of a felony from the authorities."

The justices outlined three elements of the offense that must be proved:

- The principal committed and completed the felony alleged.

- The defendant had full knowledge of that fact.

- The defendant took an affirmative step to conceal the crime.

"The People introduced no evidence at trial indicating the defendant took an affirmative step to conceal a felony, and he cannot as a matter of law be found guilty of misprision of a felony under these circumstances, since the charging document clearly states that the alleged crime is based on the fact he admitted to being present during the killing and refused to provide information or cooperate with police investigators," the Supreme Court's opinion states.

The opinion further states that the prosecution did not allege that Percival engaged in any conduct that would constitute concealing the crime from the authorities, such as lying to the police; hiding evidence; intimidating a witness; or harboring the individual who committed the crime.

Refusing to provide the police with details of the killing is insufficient to support a conviction for misprision of a felony, the high court said.

As a result of the findings by the justices, Percival's conviction for misprision of a felony cannot stand, and the judgment of the Superior Court is reversed.

Despite the reversal, Percival remains jailed serving a 12-year prison sentence in the robbery case.

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

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