Victim’s girlfriend testifies in Clark trial
Published: October 27, 2010
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ST. THOMAS — “Why a gun? Why?” Marguerite Duncan said on the witness stand Tuesday afternoon, testifying at the trial of William Clark, a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent.
Clark, 35, is facing a Virgin Islands jury, accused of second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter and two counts of using a dangerous weapon during the commission of a crime of violence, in connection with the Sept. 7, 2008, fatal shooting of Marcus Sukow, 44, at the Mahogany Run condominiums.
Duncan, the prosecution’s key witness, also was Sukow’s girlfriend, and the couple lived in the unit above Clark’s.
“Marcus Sukow was my best friend, my lover, my sweet man,” Duncan said to Assistant Attorney General Claude Walker, during testimony. “He was shot five times by the defendant sitting right there,” she said, pointing to Clark.
Duncan had known Sukow for about 14 months. She said that they were very much in love and denied that their relationship was violent.
“We were like giddy teenagers. We held hands in Kmart. We were still in the honeymoon phase. It was like a country song; he made me smile, he made me shine,” she said.
On the Sunday that Sukow was shot to death, the couple had just returned from Sunday brunch and were preparing to head to Magens Bay.
“I was just back on the island from traveling for work. We went to Molly Molone’s for brunch and watched the Formula One race. I had scrambled eggs and grits. I ordered three mimosas, drank two and walked with one. Marcus had a southern breakfast, he had Budweisers. I believe he ordered eight, he never drank a full beer because he liked freezing cold beer,” she said.
After brunch, the couple stopped to talk with friends in the restaurant, then headed for home. They left the restaurant around 10 a.m., she testified.
Once back at the apartment, Duncan started packing a beach bag as they prepared for the beach, she said, but then Sukow wanted to talk about getting married, a topic that did not interest Duncan.
“I took my purse and keys and went outside. I didn’t want to argue. I just got out of a terrible marriage, and we were happy the way we were,” she said.
Duncan testified that she headed toward her car to go to the guard gate to pick up a newspaper and that Sukow followed her.
“His voice was rising, he was being a jerk,” Duncan said. “I’ve never seen him being a jerk over something so trivial.”
Duncan contradicted statements that Sukow threatened her or threw stones at her car.
“There were no stones, he was in the car port,” she said.
She said an umbrella fell out of her car, Sukow picked up the umbrella and used it to bang on her car. When shown a photograph of her GMC Envoy that was taken on the day of the shooting, Duncan said that the damages to the car were from previous accidents.
“The mirror on the passenger side was damaged originally when it touched on a taxi sign on Main Street; a dent was when someone hit it before in the parking lot, and the vehicle was sideswiped at Virgilio’s where we had dinner the night before,” Duncan said.
Duncan said she got into her vehicle and was maneuvering out of the car port, when Clark came out of his condo.
“He stopped, walked into my car port and very nicely said, ‘Hey Margie, is everything okay here?’ I said, ‘Yes, everything is okay, just stay out of it,’” Duncan said.
Clark then approached Sukow to ask him if everything was okay, and using an expletive, Sukow told Clark to get out of his business, according to Duncan.
Another neighbor, Henry Carr, came down the steps. Sukow approached Carr and said something rude to Carr, Duncan said.
“I think it was some sort of racial slur. I think he said, ‘------, whatever.’ I was so infuriated,” she said.
Sukow went to his truck, which was parked two spaces above the spot where the defendant’s sport utility vehicle was parked, and Duncan testified that she asked Clark to drop her off at the guard gate.
“Too many people were looking. I was humiliated,” she said.
Clark agreed to take her, and Duncan got in Clark’s vehicle, which had its engine running, she said.
Sukow collected cigarettes, a lighter and a flashlight from his truck and was walking back to the condo when he realized Duncan was inside Clark’s vehicle.
“I saw his face, and I saw it
register on his face that I was in the defendant’s vehicle,” she said. “I felt relieved it was all over because I was embarrassed and humiliated, and wanted to get out of there. I saw a lighter and cigarettes in one hand and a flashlight in the other.”
Halfway through her testimony, Duncan was admonished by V.I. Superior Court Judge Edgar Ross to refer to Clark by his name.
Sukow walked over to Clark’s vehicle and demanded that Duncan get out of the vehicle, she testified. Sukow shook the flashlight, Duncan said, and raised her left hand above her shoulder, shook it back and forth to demonstrate Sukow’s gesture to the jury.
“As I was fooling with my purse, I saw Clark open a black bag with his right hand and pull out a gun. I was like, ‘Holy ----.’ I was shocked. Why a gun? Why?” she said. “I’m not sure what he said to Marcus. In reflection, it was like, ‘Buddy, go in.’ Marcus started taking diagonal steps backwards. His hands were by his side. I saw it from the very corner of the front windshield.”
Duncan said throughout the entire episode, she never was concerned for her well-being until she saw the gun.
“He pointed the gun, aimed the gun at Marcus. He pulled the trigger once, twice, I don’t know how many times at that time. I was stunned, shocked, a deer in the headlights. Marcus crossed his hands over his chest and slumped down to his waist,” Duncan testified. “I sat in the car, stunned, and Will jumped out of the car. He said, ‘Oh, my God. Oh, my God,’ something to that effect. He ran up to Marcus and caught him before he fell to the ground and put him on the concrete. Clark was shocked and stunned,” Duncan said.
Rolando Smith, a Mahogany Run security guard, already was at the scene by the time Sukow was shot.
Smith said he was making his rounds on the compound, and when he got to St. Lucia Drive, he saw Sukow blocking Duncan from leaving in her vehicle. Smith then called his partner for advice on how to handle the situation. Smith parked his vehicle and got out.
Carr came out of his building at the same time for his usual morning run, Smith testified. Sukow accosted Carr, warning him to “butt out,” Smith said. Carr ignored Sukow. Sukow advanced toward Carr and Carr returned to his condo to avoid any confrontation, Smith testified.
Sukow was belligerent and hit Duncan’s front light with a flashlight he carried, Smith testified. Sukow’s actions did not raise Smith’s concern, though, according to Smith.
Sukow then turned his attention to look for Duncan, according to Smith.
“We left Margie in the middle of the road. When we turned around, she wasn’t there. Marcus went to Clark’s vehicle and told him, ‘Will, if she’s in there, let her out.’ I saw his red light coming on at the back. He was probably trying to leave,” Smith said.
Smith said he and Sukow walked over to Clark’s vehicle.
“Upon approaching the vehicle, he hit the roof of the vehicle with his left hand and said, ‘Let her out.’ The door opened on the driver’s side; I didn’t see who opened the door. Marcus held the door; Marcus struck the inner panel of the door and said, ‘Let her out.’ After striking the inside of the door, three to four seconds later, I saw a weapon drawn. Marcus had a flashlight in his hand. After the weapon was drawn, he loosed the door and stepped back like this,” Smith said, demonstrating. “His hands were to his side.”
Smith said that at no time did he see Sukow raise the flashlight at the defendant or threaten Clark.
“That is when I got scared; a gun is involved now. Two to three seconds later, he started to shoot. I heard four shots. While he was getting shot, Marcus didn’t fall down. He stopped, watched the jeep, bent over like this, got up, took some breaths, proceeded to go back to his condo, stopped, took some breaths and keeled over,” Smith recounted. “I was at the backside of the car about 6 feet away from Marcus. After he shot Marcus, the gun was in his hand, he was holding his head and saying, ‘Call 911,’ ” Smith said, rubbing his forehead with his left hand, reenacting Clark’s actions.
“After he shot Marcus,” Smith continued, “he said, ‘Don’t worry, buddy. The ambulance is on its way. They’re gonna patch you up, and we’ll drink some beers later.’ Marcus said, ‘Bro, why did you shoot me?’ ”
Throughout the entire fracas, while Sukow carried a Mag flashlight, Smith said he did not intervene.
“You’re out there, seeing a mad person with a flashlight, hitting a car, threatening Mr. Carr telling him to butt out, you’re standing right there and didn’t say anything?” defense attorney, Rudolph Acree asked under cross-examination.
“Yes,” Smith responded.
Smith’s cross-examination was contentious, mostly erupting in squabbles between Smith and Acree, who had delivered the defense’s opening statement Monday.
The defense attempted to establish that Smith’s inaction was the result of the rapport he had built with Sukow and Sukow occasionally offered Smith a beer.
“I’m not allowed to drink on the job. If he’s leaving a beer for me, I would put it in our fridge and take it when I’m leaving,” Smith said.
Getting into more detail under cross-examination, Smith took jurors up to the point when Sukow approached Clark’s vehicle. Smith testified that Clark told Sukow to step back; Clark took his gun out and Sukow stepped back, his arms dropped to his side; and Clark shot Sukow.
“When the shots happened, Sukow’s body was moving. Clark was telling me and Margie what to do and he was helping,” Smith said.
Central dispatch notified emergency responders of a shooting at Mahogany Run. One of the first persons to arrive on the scene was Crime Scene Technician Chavonne Sasso, who testified that she arrived at Apt. 57 at 11:10 a.m.
As she processed the scene, Sasso said, she saw three cars parked on the left side of the road, blood spots on the ground, a flashlight, cigarettes and a lighter. Sasso went about taking photographs of the outside area, the three parked vehicles, and she collected anything pertinent to the incident, Sasso said, in response to questions from Assistant Attorney General Douglas Sprotte.
Several of her photographs were admitted into evidence.
When Sasso was cross-examined by defense attorney Mark Schamel, the attorney introduced a number of Sasso’s photographs of the inside of the apartment, showing disarray throughout the house — broken bottles on the counter, pill bottles, a wall painting strewn on the floor, a can of Coke on the floor, a broken porcelain dish in the front room and the telephone cord ripped out of its socket.
“You photographed them because you believed they are of evidentiary value?” Schamel asked.
“Yes,” Sasso replied.
Sasso said she made a thorough inspection of the apartment, and she did not find any firearms, any other type of weapon or any blood.
Sasso saw Duncan at the scene, looking very distraught and somewhat hysterical, but there were no signs of injury on Duncan, Sasso testified.
V.I. Police Detective Sofia Rachid also responded to the emergency call about a gunshot victim at Mahogany Run and she traveled to the scene.
“When we arrived at the scene, I saw Ms. Duncan, Rolando Smith, and the victim lying on the ground. Clark was rendering assistance to the victim,” Rachid testified. “I saw the victim lying on the ground, bleeding from the chest area. I went up to Ms. Duncan, she was crying and shaking. Clark looked worried. He was also shaken up.”
Clark told Rachid he shot the man, according to Rachid.
As the trial moves into its third day today, Duncan will resume the stand and the defense will begin its cross-examination of her, which they said could take about two hours.
Local attorney Kerry Drue is also on the defense team.