Woman who took her daughter from Calif. illegally is arrested on St. Croix
Published: September 18, 2013
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ST. CROIX - A 35-year-old woman wanted in California on a charge of child-stealing was arrested by police and awaits extradition in the matter.
Duana Berg made her initial court appearance in V.I. Superior Court on Tuesday morning after charges were brought against her that she is a fugitive from justice from Los Angeles.
According to V.I. Superior Court Judge Harold Willocks, the underlying warrant in the case charges that Berg violated a court order and unlawfully left that jurisdiction in 2009 with her 4-year-old daughter. Berg was wanted for the crime of child stealing.
V.I. Police Officer Gregory Bennerson said in his court documents filed in the case that he was driving when he saw a vehicle traveling with a registration sticker that appeared to illegal. He said he initiated a traffic stop and under questioning of the driver and passenger, realized that the woman sitting in the back seat of the truck, fit the description of the person known at Duana Berg, who he had been looking for during the course of a week based on the outstanding California warrant.
He said the identity was confirmed and the young girl who was with her was positively identified as the same child in the picture that he had been given and that was posted on the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Berg has since had a son, who is now 2 years old, and at that time of her arrest Monday evening, the children were turned over to Human Services Department social workers.
During the hearing Tuesday, Berg indicated that she wanted to represent herself in the matter, something that Willocks said he was uncomfortable with, because he did not know that she was knowledgeable of the extradition laws of the territory.
After some preliminary discussion, Willocks said he was convinced Berg was not ready to handle such a responsibility and denied her request.
Assistant Attorney General Yolan Brow Ross represented her for the advice-of-rights hearing, during which Willocks said bail had been set at $40,000 by California courts.
Willocks said that based on information from Berg, she is homeless and has no ties to the territory and is charged as being a fugitive from justice, so it would raise the concern of her being a risk of flight. He asked Ross to submit a motion for release outlining any suitable conditions of release that she believes would ensure the safety of the community and the children and guarantee Berg's appearance at future court appointments.
Willocks scheduled an extradition hearing for 8:30 a.m. Oct. 11 but said in the meantime, because Berg expressed an interest in waiving a hearing, the necessary paperwork could be filed and begin the process for the law enforcement authorities in California to come and get her to take her back to face the charges.
Willocks said based on the law, Berg can be held for 30 days while the court awaits her return to California.
She remains in custody at Golden Grove Adult Correctional Facility.
- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.