Valen­tine’s Day Mur­der Trial

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -


Toni Ni­cholas

On the morn­ing of Satur­day Fe­bru­ary 14, 2009, Saint Lu­cia recorded the homi­cide of a young man, Dwayne Hazel James, aka Chubby, of May­nard Hill Marc­hand. That same day Jonathan St. Rose, pop­u­larly known as Ninja Dan, a lo­cal celebrity, was de­tained for ques­tion­ing in re­la­tion to the death.

The fol­low­ing week, two other men Lyn­denn Blasse and Marvin Terry Nel­son were also ar­rested in con­nec­tion with the Fe­bru­ary 14 in­ci­dent.The three were later charge with the death of James.

James died from mul­ti­ple stab wounds. An au­topsy re­vealed he had suf­fered sev­eral stab wounds, one of which had punc­tured his lungs. The ac­cused were de­nied bail. Last De­cem­ber a trial date was set for Fe­bru­ary 2, 2015.

On Mon­day five men and nine women were se­lected as the jury. The ac­tual trial got un­der­way the fol­low­ing day at the Cas­tries High Court. The crowd out­side the court­house was sparse; a far cry from the cir­cus and may­hem that had en­sued when the three first ap­peared in court six years ago. On Tues­day, St. Rose wore a black shirt and jeans with his dread­locks wrapped around his head, like a tur­ban. Blasse, now also sport­ing dread­locks, wore a blue and white plaid shirt. Also dread­locked, Nel­son wore a green shirt.

The case got un­der­way shortly be­fore noon on Tues­day with the wooden benches re­main­ing by and large empty save for about half a dozen fam­ily mem­bers.

Rep­re­sent­ing the crown was the Direc­tor of Public Pros­e­cu­tions Vic­to­ria Charles Clarke. The de­fen­dants St. Rose, Blasse and Nel­son were rep­re­sented by Das­dean Green, Les­lie Mon­de­sir and Andy Ge­orge re­spec­tively. Jus­tice Fran­cis Cum­ber­batch presided.

The first wit­ness was the vic­tim’s mother. She tes­ti­fied to hav­ing iden­ti­fied her son’s body on the morn­ing of Fe­bru­ary 14, 2009. She ac­knowl­edged her pres­ence at her son’s au­topsy. The next wit­ness de­scribed him­self as a close friend of the de­ceased; they par­tied reg­u­larly to­gether. He tes­ti­fied that on the night in ques­tion he had spo­ken with James, who was with a fe­male, at the Late Train Bar at Marc­hand in Cas­tries. Un­der cross-ex­am­i­na­tion he said he had no idea of James’ re­la­tion with his fe­male com­pan­ion, although he had of­ten seen them to­gether. He could not re­call what the de­ceased wore on the night of Fe­bru­ary 14, 2009.

Two first re­spon­dents from the Saint Lu­cia Fire Ser­vice also gave ev­i­dence Tues­day. The first had re­ceived a call about an in­ci­dent at May­nard Hill, Marc­hand shortly af­ter 2 am. Upon ar­rival, he told the court, he saw James slouched over in a chair with blood all around him. He was un­re­spon­sive, show­ing no vi­tal signs.

Day one of the trial con­cluded with the DPP call­ing pathol­o­gist Stephen King. He con­firmed that he had con­ducted an au­topsy on Dwayne James and pro­ceeded to read from his notes what he had ob­served dur­ing the au­topsy. He spoke of wounds to the vic­tim’s legs and thighs with one in­tru­sion hav­ing sev­ered a vein, caus­ing much loss of blood. Ac­cord­ing to King there were also wounds to the up­per but­tocks and up­per right back—a wound he tes­ti­fied had punc­tured James’ lung. He said a sharp ob­ject had caused the wounds.

On Wed­nes­day, po­lice of­fi­cer La­mon­tagne tes­ti­fied that he and St. Rose were friends; St. Rose was his wife’s cousin. The wit­ness re­called that on the morn­ing of the in­ci­dent he was parked out­side the home of Marvin Nel­son, with whom he was familiar. He de­scribed Nel­son as an in­tro­vert whose grand­mother was like a mother to the wit­ness.

La­mon­tagne tes­ti­fied that at about 1:30 am he re­ceived a call from St. Rose who said his child’s mother had re­quested his as­sis­tance as some­one was beat­ing her. The wit­ness tes­ti­fied that he had de­tected a sense of ur­gency in the voice of St. Rose who said he was on his way to May­nard Hill where the mother of his child lived. St. Rose also told the of­fi­cer his son had seen what had hap­pened.

The wit­ness tes­ti­fied that he drove to May­nard Hill from Sans Soucis, a ten to fif­teen minute drive. At May­nard Hill he saw St. Rose and Marvin Nel­son seated on a step near the road­side. St. Rose ap­proached him and re­peated his ear­lier state­ment, that a man had his child’s mother in her house, but by the time St. Rose ar­rived at the scene the at­tacker had fled. He said a group of men from the area had chased af­ter him.

The wit­ness went on to ex­plain that St. Rose ac­com­pa­nied him to the bal­cony of a house and in­tro­duced him to a woman who con­firmed that while she was in the house a man she knew had en­tered and started beat­ing her. The of­fi­cer said he tried to fur­ther ques­tion the woman but she would not an­swer. He no­ticed she was trem­bling. He said he then ad­vised her and also St. Rose to make a re­port.

Upon leav­ing the scene, the of­fi­cer tes­ti­fied, he came into con­tact with of­fi­cer Cools of the SSU who told him he was re­spond­ing to a call about an in­ci­dent down the road. He told the court he had heard Cools speak­ing to St. Rose, and heard the sound of an am­bu­lance. The ve­hi­cle even­tu­ally stopped be­hind his ve­hi­cle.

Soon af­ter the wit­ness en­tered his own ve­hi­cle and drove off. He said he called St. Rose to re­mind him to make a re­port. Later that morn­ing he said he had an­other phone con­ver­sa­tion with St. Rose who in­di­cated that the man who had at­tacked his child’s mother had “died down the road.”

The wit­ness said he asked St. Rose whether he was sure that he did not hit the man. St. Rose said he had not.

Fol­low­ing the lunch ad­journ­ment that day Of­fi­cer Cools was called to the wit­ness stand. He tes­ti­fied that he knew St. Rose, hav­ing pro­vided se­cu­rity for him at events.

Un­der cross-ex­am­i­na­tion Cor­po­ral Cools re­called the morn­ing of Fe­bru­ary 14, 2009 when he re­ceived the call about an in­ci­dent at May­nard Hill. Upon ar­rival he said he spoke to St. Rose. The wit­ness de­nied speak­ing to Of­fi­cer La­mon­tagne at the scene. He was asked whether he had made a writ­ten state­ment on the day in ques­tion. He said he had not. He was then shown a state­ment, writ­ten Oc­to­ber, that bore his name. The wit­ness ac­knowl­edged it was his sig­na­ture. There was a back and forth be­tween the DPP and the de­fense team dur­ing the tes­ti­mony of this par­tic­u­lar wit­ness, at which point the court was cleared.

One fi­nal wit­ness was called be­fore the mat­ter was ad­journed shortly be­fore 5 pm on that day. The trial con­tin­ues on Mon­day.

The trial of Johnathan St. Rose, Lyn­denn Blasse and Marvin Terry Nel­son into the death of Dwayne Hazel James com­menced in the High Court here on Mon­day.

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