PHILIPSBURG–The Solicitor-General called for prison sentences of eighteen and sixteen years during Thursday’s appeal hearing against two serial robbers who had received prison terms of ten and fourteen years, respectively, from the Court of First Instance on December 21, 2018.
Repeat offender Florentine Jerome (27) and first-time offender Vernon Emmanuel Boyd (25) both stood trial for a string of street robberies as well as robberies in stores and in the homes of their victims.
In calling for prison sentences of 16 years for Jerome and 18 years for Boyd, the Solicitor-General said the suspects should be put behind lock and key for a long time to make St. Maarten “somewhat” safer.
The lesser court had found Jerome guilty of involvement in 11 armed robberies, for which he was sent to prison for 14 years. He was also sentenced to repay the criminal proceeds obtained through these robberies, which were set by the Court at NAf. 1,675 plus US $13,573.
Co-defendant Boyd received 10 years. He was also ordered to pay back his criminal proceeds which were set at NAf. 1,675 plus $19,438.
Last year, the Prosecutor’s Office had asked the Judge to sentence both suspects to 16 years in prison for a large number of armed robberies committed between November 2017 and January 2018.
The Judge in the Court of First Instance had rejected the Prosecutor’s request to order the execution of a three-month suspended sentence for Jerome which dated back from April 2015, as it could not be established that a probation period had been attached to the verdict.
The Prosecutor’s Office as well as the two defendants, who partially confessed to the alleged crimes, had filed for appeal.
Among the alleged crimes are the robbery at Beach Plaza Casino on February 13, 2017; the robbery at Leonard Enterprises in Madame Estate on January 8, 2018; and the attempted robbery at Popular Express supermarket on January 20, 2018.
Other charges mentioned in the indictments include threat and extortion of two victims on December 14, 2017, and a case of home invasion on January 21, 2018. These crimes were reportedly committed in the drug scene. Both men were also charged with possession of illegal firearms.
Boyd is also a suspect in the “Posbank” investigation into the shooting of Joceidy H. Grell on December 5, 2017.
“I fired a shot at Joceidy Grell with a black handgun. I aimed at him and wanted to hurt him. He was about 60 feet away from me when I took the shot,” he had told the judge in the Court of First Instance.
The Prosecutor in the initial case had requested that Boyd be convicted of assault with a weapon, but the Solicitor-General said Thursday that she found attempted manslaughter proven.
According to the Solicitor-General, the two defendants were guilty of having committed exceptionally brutal and violent crimes, often with the use of firearms, among which were the armed robbery of a casino just before closing time and an armed robbery in broad daylight in the presence of the victim’s young son, “who witnessed it all.”
Attorneys Geert Hatzmann for Jerome and Safira Ibrahim on behalf of Boyd pleaded for their clients’ acquittals on some of the charges.
Hatzmann said his client deserved a sentence but called the Prosecutor’s Office’s demand “draconic.” He pleaded for a six-year prison term which would offer some prospects for his client, who said he wanted to change his life.
Ibrahim was of the opinion that Boyd should not be convicted of manslaughter in the Grell shooting, as he had only fired one shot from a distance of 60 feet, which, in the lawyer’s eyes, meant that only inflicting severe bodily harm could be proven.
She said the Solicitor-General’s demand was too high and called on the Court of Appeals to “drastically” lower the punishment.
The Court will render the verdicts in these two cases on September 11.