PHILIPSBURG–The Court of Appeals upheld the conviction of brothers Hashantley Fulgencio Martina (28) and Hensley Hilarion Martina (24), who were found guilty of the murder of Francis W. Brunache in Hope Estate on January 24, 2017.
For this crime, they were sentenced to 25 years in prison by the Court of First Instance on December 12, 2018.
Appeals Court judges confirmed Hashantley’s 25-year sentence on Thursday. At the time of the murder, he was on probation for a previous offence and about to stand trial for drug-possession and “joyriding”. The Court upheld his sentence for these reasons.
Hashantley was arrested near St. Maarten Zoo on November 19, 2016, in the middle of the night. According to the police, he displayed suspicious behaviour and officers found an amount of cocaine in the vicinity. He was arrested, shackled and taken into a police vehicle. Despite being shackled, he managed to drive away in the police car, only to be apprehended again later.
He was not charged with drug-possession as it could not be established without reasonable doubt that the drugs belonged to him. However, the Prosecutor did request two months imprisonment for car theft and/or joyriding. The judge in the Court of First Instance believed that joyriding was legally and convincingly proven and sentenced Hashantley to 80 hours of community service. This judgement was rendered on January 25, 2017 – one day after Brunache’s murder.
As per the demands of the Prosecutor’s Office, the suspended sentence from the previous offence was added to his current prison term. Hashantley was therefore given a total of 26 years in prison by the Appeals Court on Thursday.
Hensley was given 22 years in prison by the Appeals Court, a reduction of three years.
The Prosecutor’s Office had requested 24 years for Hashantley and 22 years for Hensley during the hearing of this case in the Court of First Instance last year.
The Prosecutor’s Office said in a press release on Thursday that it is pleased with the Court’s verdict.
Brunache was killed in his car, which was parked at Pica Shell Road. He was struck by bullets fired from a semi-automatic weapon in what the Prosecutor described as a “cold-blooded reckoning” in a residential area where bystanders easily could have become victims. The murder was possibly drug-related.
The brothers denied their involvement in the gangland-style killing. Their lawyer Marije Vaders primarily built her clients’ defence on a mistake made by police investigator J.V.G.
In using wiretapped telephone conversations as evidence in this case, the Prosecutor’s Office had established that Hashantley had been in the car that was used in the killing. However, it later emerged that G. had made a mistake in the voice recognition. The voice which was recorded minutes before the murder did not belong to Hashantley, who speaks with a Curaçaolenean accent, but to co-suspect Kathron “Kuchi” Fortune, who hails from Grenada.
The Solicitor-General said in March that the Prosecutor’s Office did not consider it “opportune” to prosecute Fortune in this case.
In a separate case, the Court of First Instance on June 5 sentenced Fortune to life in prison for killing two men in a hotel room at Simpson Bay Resort on December 5, 2016.