Prosecution demands 30 years against Stevie R.POSTED: 05/13/11 12:29 PM
Prosecution demands 30 years against Stevie R.
St. Maarten – Raw emotion finally poured out when three defendants in the October 16 Maho robbery that resulted in the death of Dutchman Wouter-Jan Romeijn left the courthouse yesterday morning. Romeijn’s brother Marten, who followed the court proceedings on Wednesday and yesterday, let go of an outburst of profanity, flipping the bird, and screamed: “You killed my brother. Die!” as well as some additional unprintable expressions.
Stevie Adolphus R., who celebrates his 25th birthday in the Pointe Blanche prison next week Thursday, left the courthouse with a 30-year prison sentence hanging over his head. The prosecution demanded 26 years against Alescio Elvio V., 18 years against Julio Cesar E.-V. and 22 years against the fugitive Omar N. Judge mr. M. Keppels will pronounce her verdict on Wednesday June 1.
Prosecutor mr. M.L.P. Ridderbeks focused her demand on the robbery, kidnapping and subsequent death of Romeijn. Omar N., Alescio V. and Stevie R. were all three involved in this crime, whereby they first robbed Romeijn, then came back to force him into the trunk of their car because they wanted to squeeze the access codes of his credit cards out if him. But when they drove at high speed over the Friendly Island Boulevard in Maho they hit a speed bump, the trunk flew open and Romeijn either jumped or fell out of the car. Half an hour later, he was dead.
Ridderbeks said that security video showed the victim walking towards Mullet Bay at a quarter past two at night on October 16. Six minutes later a silver colored car passed driving in the same direction, and seven minutes after that the same car returned, driving at high speed. After the car disappeared from the camera’s reach, the video showed “something white” lying on the street near the roundabout across from the airport runway. That was Wouter-Jan Romeijn. He passed away shortly after witnesses found him.
An hour and a half before this crime, the three robbers had stolen the silver-colored car from a couple on the French side during a violent robbery whereby shots were fired, the male victim was ill-treated, and his girlfriend robbed of her handbag.
It took investigators less than a week to find the stolen car, and while they were at it, another car passed that was spreading a strong marijuana odor. That car was stopped as well, and the people in it, Omar N. and Eddie A. were arrested.
After Eddie A. and Omar N. started making statements about their involvement in the Romeijn-case and the car robbery on the French side, the investigation snowballed. One thing led to the other, and based on statements from the defendants in combination with the results of the forensic investigation, investigators were able to put the pieces of the puzzle together.
Omar N. drove the car during the Romeijn-robbery, Alescio V. attacked the victim with a karate kick (a flying kick, the prosecutor said), and Stevie R, aka Scare, held him while V. searched his pockets. Initially the robbers drove off, but they returned shortly afterwards, and forced Romeijn into the trunk of their car. “I will kill you if you do not come along,” Scare told the victim.
Stevie R. and Alescio V. both said in court on Wednesday that it had all been the idea of the fugitive Omar N., aka Chucky. “They said that Chucky came with the plan to rob the man, Chucky came with the plan to go back and force him to come along, and that Chucky decided to put him in the trunk. I do not believe a word of it, Ridderbeks said.
The defendants claimed that they had not used a weapon against Romeijn, but Ridderbeks doubted that, given the fact that a steering wheel lock was missing from the car. “Hitting with the steering wheel lock fits with the injuries that are described in the autopsy report, the prosecutor said. “That hit made him groggy, and that enabled the defendants to put Romeijn in the trunk. Otherwise they would not have managed that, because the victim was a tall and strong man.”
The prosecutor said that the pathologist had been unable to establish whether Romeijn’s head injuries stemmed from a hit with the steering wheel lock or that they were the result of his fall from the driving car.
“But this is irrelevant for proving the charges,” she said. “All three defendants are responsible for this. If Romeijn had not encountered these defendants that night he would have been alive today. This was a robbery followed by a kidnapping that resulted in his death. The death is directly linked with the kidnapping.”
Other charges paled compared to the Romeijn robbery and kidnapping; prosecutor Ridderbeks said that this notion had hit her when she was reviewing the case. “But those other charges are very serious as well.”
Among those charges are the robbery of the couple on the French side, a robbery in Dawn Beach on October 10 followed by another one in Cole Bay on the same day, the robbery at the Holiday Village of two couples in Guana Bay two days later, and the robbery of a man who was sleeping in his car in Cay Hill on October 14. Other charges were a robbery at a house on the Gold Finch road on October 21, a robbery of a pizza deliveryman months earlier (on March 6 of last year) in Dutch Quarter, and the robbery of a scooter from a boy on Gibbs drive in Dutch Quarter.
Ridderbeks asked the court to acquit the defendants of membership of a criminal organization. “The single act of repeatedly going out together to commit crimes does not result in proof for membership of a criminal organization,” she said.
Summing it all up, the prosecutor took the gruesomeness of the crimes, the amount of violence used and the sheer number of crimes as factors she took into account in determining her demands. What also played a role is a picture in yesterday’s other daily newspaper that showed Alescio V. making a victory-sign and Stevie R. with a big smile on his face when they left the courthouse. “As if it did not matter at all what they had done,” the prosecutor fumed. “They could not care less that somebody died.”
Attorney mr. Z.J. Bary told the court that her client Stevie R. had not been cautioned ahead of interrogations by detectives and that these statements were therefore not admissible as evidence. She also said that Stevie R. had been treated badly during his detention.
“My client had no intention to kill or to kidnap Mr. Romeijn,” she said. “He fell out of the car and it is possible that this is how he sustained his head injury. The level of punishment should be determined by my client’s intentions.”
Bary asked the court for a belated psychological evaluation of her client, but prosecutor Ridderbeks scoffed at the idea later on.
Bary said that, though Stevie R. had been arrested for the Romeijn-case, he and other defendants had freely made statements about other cases. “They admitted to most of it. I am not asking you to send my client home, but this ought to be taken into consideration.”
mr. G. Hatzmann, who represented Alescio V. and Julio Cesar E.-V., said that he agreed with the prosecutor’s remark about the picture in the other daily newspaper, and pointed out that he had asked for a behavioral assessment of his client Alescio V.
Hatzmann asked the court to anticipate the legislation in the new penal code, which would put his client V.’s maximum penalty at 15 years plus one third. “That is twenty years instead of the 26 the prosecution demands.”
Hatzmann referred to the “tragic youth” his clients have had. “And they are not the only ones. My clients are exponents of a lost generation. There is no youth policy, the government does not create jobs and young people grow up with the idea that the law of the jungle rules. The government does not do anything and that is a big shame.”
Hatzmann said that his client V. had asked for help but that he did not get any and that as a result he had fallen into alcoholism. “He is a friendly and polite boy, not the prototype of a gangster. All his emotions are blocked, he just acted. It is time for the society to wake up, because right now it is Sodom and Gomorrah here.”