Fratricide punished with 8 years in jailPOSTED: 07/5/12 1:36 PM
St. Maarten – Charles Tristan Samuel broke down in the courthouse yesterday morning after the Court in First Instance sentenced him to 8 years imprisonment for fatally shooting his 20-year old brother Jamal during an argument on February 12.
The court rejected the defendant’s attorney Mr. Cor Merx’s plea for self defense. The shooting occurred around at 6:15 p.m. on February 12. Two independent witnesses told investigators about the argument that erupted between the two siblings about the fact that the later victim refused to lend his brother his car. Both witnesses saw that the shooter had a gun in his hand when he came down the stairs of the family’s house in Fort Willem. When Jamal kept coming at his brother to settle the argument, the latter fired two shots. One of the bullets hit the victim through the rear of his left collar bone, and then traveled between his esophagus and pleura into the right-hand chest cavity, where the pathologist later would find 1, 800 cc of blood. He concluded that the victim died due to the loss of blood.
Witnesses heard the victim tell his brother “take that thing out of my face,” and “what are you saying, what are you going to do” shortly before the shots were fired.
Charles Samuel said during an interrogation by the police that he had had a vehement verbal argument with his brother.
“A shot went off. I believe that I pulled the trigger. Jamal is taller than I am and I became scared. He kept coming at me and I fired a second shot. Then I saw Jamal fall backwards down the stairs and onto the ground. I saw that he bled.”
Judge Mr. Monique Keppels noted in her considerations that the second shot had been fatal. “Apparently Jamal Samuel got so angry that he went to his brother. Since the defendant fired two shots, at least one of them in his brother’s direction, he consciously exposed himself to the significant chance that his brother would be hit fatally because of these actions.”
The court rejected the defendant’s claim that Jamal had stormed up the stairs holding a gun and that he had taken it away from him.
“The court regards this statement as not plausible considering the statements by the two witnesses.”
Judge Keppels further rejected the defense call on self defense.
“By pulling a gun during an argument whereby there still was a considerable distance between the defendant and Jamal Samuel, the defendant consciously brought himself into a situation whereby a threatening reaction from Jamal Samuel was to be expected. When that reaction materializes, in the sense that Jamal Samuel angrily comes towards the defendant, there is no self defense situation. Additionally Jamal Samuel was not armed at that moment and therefore there appears not to have been a need for using the firearm.”
Judge Keppels concluded that the defendant took his brother’s life “during a verbal argument that got completely out of control.”
“The defendant has caused irreparable sorrow to the family. That the defendant regrets his actions and suffers from the whole situation are circumstances that will be taken into account in sentencing.”
However, that consideration did not result in mitigation of the 8 years imprisonment public prosecutor Mr. Manon Ridderbeks demanded at the trial on June 13. Instead, the judge noted that the prosecutor’s demand is a fitting punishment and she sentenced Samuel accordingly.
The defendant and his attorney are considering their option to appeal the verdict.