Witness in St. Croix murder trial accuses detective of falsifying her statement, sexually harassing her
Published: February 13, 2014
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ST. CROIX - Testimony continued Wednesday in the V.I. Superior Court murder trial of Leo Lubrin with the prosecution's key witness denying ever making an oral or written statement to police and tainting the credibility of the investigation and prosecution by accusing both the prosecutor and case agent of making inappropriate statements to her.
Lubrin, 23, faces charges of first-degree murder; first-degree reckless endangerment; unauthorized use of a firearm during a violent crime; using a dangerous weapon during a violent crime; and failure to report a firearm brought into the Virgin Islands in connection with the Aug. 11, 2011, shooting death of Christopher Rice in the Lorraine Village housing community.
Jury selection in the case being heard by Judge Douglas Brady took place Monday and in the second day of testimony from witnesses Wednesday, Shanika Tyson testified that she lived in the area of where the shooting took place in 2011.
Tyson said she was watching television with her children when she heard gunshots ring out, they all dropped to the floor and stayed there. She said she never looked out of her window and did not know that someone was shot and that it was Rice until her neighbor came knocking and told her.
On direct examination, Assistant Attorney General Joseph Ponteen asked Tyson about her written statement about the incident that was given to V.I. Police Detective Kirk Fieulleteau, the case agent, the day after the shooting.
Tyson then testified that she never had spoken to the detective in the days that followed the murder and that no one from the police department had ever questioned her about what she saw that night.
She said she had met Fieulleteau one time in a conflict-resolution meeting and his phone number was passed on to her from the housing complex manager.
She also testified that months later she called him to ask him for some money to buy a shirt and he propositioned her for sex. She said they never discussed the murder.
Later during her testimony, as Ponteen questioned Tyson about her written statements that were to be admitted as evidence in the case, including a photo array identification of Lubrin as the shooter, she testified that the only time she ever saw that statement and photo was when she met with Ponteen last week and he threatened to put her in jail if she did not lie.
"You told me last week that if I did not come and say just what is on the paper, that you would throw me in jail," Tyson testified. "And I asked you how you going to testify when I never said those things, I never saw those things."
Tyson denied making the written statement and denied signing her initials and signature on pages of the multi-page document about the murder.
When Fieulleteau took the stand Wednesday, he told the court that in the course of the investigation he went door to door in the area of buildings 5 and 6. He said he left cards with several neighbors, including Tyson, so they could call him if they wanted to give a statement about the incident.
He testified that the next day, Tyson called and asked him to meet her in Sunny Isle Shopping Center to give him some information. According to Fieulleteau, he parked in a low-traffic area so that he could talk to Tyson.
"She was concerned about people knowing that she gave information to the police," he said. "She was scared, so I had her meet me there and she walked over from Rainbow where she was."
Fieulleteau said Tyson got into the back seat of his tinted unmarked police unit and he conducted the interview, then wrote it down and she signed it.
According to Fieulleteau's police report, six men - including Rice and Lubrin - were gambling between buildings 5 and 6 at Lorraine Village when an argument began.
According to witness accounts, shortly before 11 p.m., Lubrin became upset with the outcome of one of the games and began shouting, with at least one person - now identified as Tyson - saying they heard him yell: "You all better get from here because somebody go'n' be dead tonight."
Lubrin then ran to his nearby apartment and returned a short time later with a gun, according to police.
Most of the other men had run off from the area, but Rice, 19, was standing on the walkway between the buildings holding onto his bike when Lubrin began firing, according to Fieulleteau's affidavit.
Forensic Technician Julisa Lansiquot has testified that she collected five spent casings.
Lubrin surrendered to police for questioning some time later after his mother informed him that police were looking for him. He later was arrested.
On the first day of testimony Tuesday, jurors heard from witnesses who included Rice's mother, who confirmed that her son was dead, and Medical Examiner Dr. Francisco Landron, who described the nature of the three shots that hit Rice - one that entered his chest and punctured his liver, heart and lung; a second to his left chest; and one to his buttocks.
Jurors also heard from a patrol officer, Lubrin's sister and from Lubrin's mother, Avonelle Williams, who testified that Lubrin had borrowed her vehicle about 10 p.m. the night of the shooting to visit a friend and was not in Lorraine Village at the time of Rice's murder.
The trial will continue at 9 a.m. today, with prosecutors expected to wrap up their case before noon.
Defense attorney Michael Joseph called one character witness out of turn Tuesday and is expected to call two more witnesses to speak of Lubrin's good character when the defense puts on its case.
- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.