PHILIPSBURG–The Prosecutor’s Office on Wednesday requested a prison sentence of thirty months for a 34-year-old suspect in the so-called Mahi-Mahi case.
K.L. stands trial for the possession of US $48,700 in counterfeit money and the illegal possession of a firearm.
The Mahi-Mahi investigation started after a shooting at The Westin St. Maarten Dawn Beach Resort and Spa’s parking garage on May 29, 2016.
The reason for the shooting has never become clear, but “it has all the appearance of a rip-deal that got out of hand,” according to the Prosecutor during Wednesday’s Court hearing. According to a witness, the rip-deal involved the sale of five kilos of cocaine.
K.L. and his co-defendant L.W. (39) were both severely injured in the shooting. L.W. had been released from prison just before the shooting after serving eight years for a rip-deal with a fatal outcome. As L.W. had not been properly subpoenaed for Wednesday’s hearing, his case will be dealt with early 2018.
K.L. denied any involvement in the shooting and denied that the packages with counterfeit money that were found in his car belonged to him.
He claimed he had gone to The Westin to see a person who wanted to rent a car. While at the hotel parking lot, K.L. and L.W. were confronted by two armed men. They wanted to kill them and took his gold chain and watch, K.L. said. However, the items were later found in his car.
Photos of a Glock firearm and pictures of the wrappers in which the money was packed were found on K.L.’s phone. However, he denied possession of the firearm and the wrapping, despite the fact the pictures seem to have been taken on the bedspread in his bedroom.
K.L., who is a first offender, was held in detention between May 29, 2016, and September 8, 2016.
The Prosecutor said it was “very frustrating” that no one could be charged for involvement in the shooting – during which 11 bullets were fired – as technical and forensic evidence were lacking.
However, he did find K.L. guilty of possession of counterfeit money and an illegal firearm. For these crimes the Prosecutor called on the Judge to order the defendant’s immediate detention.
Attorney Brenda Brooks said she regretted that the prime witness in this case could not be found for questioning by the defence. Therefore, this witness’ statement should not be used as evidence, she claimed.
Brooks said her client did not have any knowledge of counterfeit money. Where the gun was concerned, she said the weapon was never found, only a photo. Therefore, the lawyer pleaded for her client’s full acquittal.
The Judge will give her decision December 27.