Woman gets sentence for aggravated assault

PHILIPSBURG-A 38-year-old woman was sentenced by the Court of First Instance on Thursday, to forty hours of community service and payment of US $500 in damages for aggravated assault.

The Judge found Martina Reyes Richardson, who was born in the Dominican Republic, guilty as charged in the incident of November 21, 2016.

The woman confessed she had been in a fight with another woman over a man. Reyes informed the Court that both women had been drinking at a bar from 5:00pm, and had been quite inebriated when they were driven home in a car after midnight.

The fight started in the car they were sitting in. Punches were exchanged and hairs were pulled in the fight. When they got out of the car, Reyes allegedly picked up a bottle or another sharp object and dealt the victim a severe blow to the head.

The victim sustained injuries to her head and face, which required four stitches. The woman, who filed for damages to the tune of US $14,732, said her left eye was closed for five days after the fight.

She told the Court on Thursday that she could still not return to work on board of chartered yachts due to an infection. She has to undergo reconstructive surgery in the Dominican Republic to prevent a disfiguring scar on her face, she said.

The suspect, who is a first offender, said she regretted the incident and called for forgiveness. Her lawyer Marlon Hart said his client was willing to pay damages, but to a lesser amount.

On behalf of the victim, who was present at the hearing, attorney Geert Hatzmann said his client has suffered “excruciating pain and was living in fear” after the attack, which he described as a “cowardly act” in which his client “was mistreated in a horrible way.” He also pointed out that the defendant had not spent one day in jail for this crime.

In stating that St. Maarten does not have a compensation fund for victims of crime, Hatzmann said his client had been confronted with considerable medical expenses for reconstructive surgery, facial massage therapy and medication. His client also filed for immaterial damages.

   Prosecutor Luuk Bertels considered aggravated assault proven, which he based on the victim’s report, the medical report and a witness statement.

The Prosecutor said the defendant had to pay for this crime in performing 80 hours of community service, 20 of which were to be suspended, on three years’ probation.

As the victim proved to be covered by health insurance, the Prosecutor called upon the Court to award damages to the lower amount of $2,900.

Defence lawyer Marlon Hart said his client should be convicted of the lesser count of assault. “This was no case of mistreatment with a weapon, but an ordinary fight,” Hart said.

He claimed there was no proof that his client had actually used a bottle in the fight, and said it was as yet unclear whether the attack would result in permanent injury.

Taking the outcome of the fight into account, the Judge found aggravated assault proven. “The injuries are of such a nature that these cannot be inflicted by a fist.” Instead, it was found proven the defendant had dealt a “massive blow” with a bottle, the Judge told the defendant.

Considering the low risk of recidivism, the Judge imposed a lesser sentence than requested by the Prosecutor, and sentenced the defendant to 40 hours of community service, and payment of $500 in damages.

The allocated amount of damages was limited as the victim had failed to substantiate the amount of medical expenses. As the Judge is no medical expert, the Court could also not assess the need for facial reconstruction, it was said in the ruling.

Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/63032-woman-gets-sentence-for-aggravated-assault