Witness in Back Street murder implicates 3 suspects in spate of other robberies
Published: October 3, 2013
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ST. THOMAS - The three men who are accused of robbing and murdering a man on Aug. 24 may be tied to a series of other theft-related crimes, according to court documents.
V.I. police on Tuesday arrested Josiah Hodge, Marley Saunders and Marco Colon in connection with the robbery and murder of Gregory LaBlanc, 41, on Back Street.
Hodge, 20, Saunders, 21, and Colon, 23, are being held on a bail of $500,000 each after their advice-of-rights hearing Wednesday in V.I. Superior Court before Judge Adam Christian.
They are charged with first-degree murder; second-degree murder; first-degree assault; third-degree assault; first-degree robbery; conspiracy; and four counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime.
Police arrested the three men after discovering that surveillance video from two private security systems captured portions of the shooting that left LaBlanc dead.
The shooting took place after 1 a.m., when LaBlanc was walking up Tvaer Gade, then walked up a set of stairs, which put him out of the view of the surveillance video.
The surveillance video then showed two men, later identified as Saunders and Hodge, approaching the bottom of the stairs, peeking around the corner at LaBlanc and then running up the stairs after him, according to court documents. A third man simultaneously approaches the bottom of the stairs.
LaBlanc then flees down the stairs, running from Saunders and Hodge, and runs into the third man at the bottom of the stairs, according to court documents. LaBlanc struggles with the third man, and the two of them end up against a vehicle and set off the alarm.
Saunders and Hodge then return into view of the video surveillance and Hodge produces a handgun and shoots LaBlanc, according to court documents. Separate video surveillance then captures the three men, including Hodge holding the handgun, running from the scene, according to court documents.
One of the police officers who routinely patrols the area, Kim Hoheb, was able to identify Hodge in the footage. Hoheb also recalled seeing several men in the area of the incident just minutes before it took place, though she could not identify the men at the time.
Police also spoke with a resident referred to in court documents as NW, who said that he was a friend of Hodge's and that they had been committing thefts, or what they called "eats," for some time. NW did not specify for how long.
Hodge contacted NW the evening of LaBlanc's death, seeing if NW was interested in an "eat," according to NW's statement to police. NW met with Hodge, who brought two other men, one known to NW as "Marley" and the other whom NW did not know, according to NW's statement.
The man whom NW did not know went by the name of "Bloods," NW said.
NW and the three other men were on Back Street, across from Virgilio's restaurant, looking for a target, NW told police. Just minutes after a police vehicle drove by, Hodge saw LaBlanc and said that the four of them should target him, according to NW.
NW told Hodge to leave LaBlanc alone, NW told police, as it appeared that LaBlanc did not look like he had anything on him and NW chose not to take part in the "eat," he told police.
NW told police he did not see the entire incident, but he could hear LaBlanc shouting, cursing and telling the men to leave him alone.
NW later asked Hodge why he shot the LaBlanc, and Hodge told him, "That's how you got to be," because LaBlanc was making too much noise, according to NW's statement to police. NW said that he had been waiting with a change of clothes for the three men when they were finished.
When questioned by police, NW was allowed to watch the surveillance video and identified Hodge and Saunders as the two men who initially pursued LaBlanc, and "Bloods" as the man at the bottom of the stairs. NW said he had been standing just outside the frame of the video surveillance.
Police later found out from another resident that Colon goes by the name of "Bloods" and is friends with Saunders.
Arraignment for the three suspects is scheduled for 9 a.m. Oct. 17.
- Contact Jenny Kane at 714-9102 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.