Teenager faces twelve years for fatal DVD-store shooting

POSTED: 03/30/15 12:34 PM

St. Maarten – The prosecutor’s office demanded a 12-year prison sentence against Shimano G. yesterday, the just 17-year-old boy who fatally shot Etienne Leblanc on October 9 of last year in his handicapped father’s DVD-store on Back Street. The story revolves around  robberies of necklaces. G.’s attorney Remco Stomp called on self-defense and asked the court to acquit his client. The court will pronounce its ruling on April 15.

The courtroom was packed with family members from both the defendant and the victim yesterday morning. The hearing began with hearing two witnesses – a 33-year-old daycare teacher and the father of the defendant, Anthony Hamilton.

The court reminded Hamilton several times that he is under oath and that lying under oath carries a 6 to 9-year prison sentence. The witness, who is severely handicapped, stuck to his story and in the end, the court let it go.

Hamilton’s story is that on October 9 of last year two men entered his DVD-store and that one of them was brandishing a gun, saying ‘give me your money.’ He claimed to have heard a shot, dropped to the ground and when he got up he saw a man lying face down on a couch. In a new statement, his attorney Stomp presented to the court before the hearing, Hamilton claims that his son and another boy wrestled with the two men that had entered the store.

The story is however more complicated than that. The young defendant claimed that the victim had robbed him of his necklace two to three weeks before the shooting; together with two uncles he went looking for his robber. He found him on the French side, but the robber, whose name was mentioned in court, ran away and G.’s later victim Etienne Leblanc had laughed in his face.

  1. then ripped a necklace from Leblanc’s neck, saying according to his own account that he would get it back when G. got his own necklace back.

On October 9, Leblanc came calling at the shop of G.’s father on Back Street, reportedly “to talk to him.”

The encounter ended in a deadly disaster. The defendant’s version of the events does not hold up against the forensic evidence. Especially the shot wounds the victim sustained contradict G.’s statements – and those of his father.

  1. claimed that there had been a fight in the store, but several witnesses denied that this happened. He also claimed that he had fired three shots, after taking the gun away from Leblanc whom he said had attacked him.

The investigation shows however that Leblanc was first shot in the side of his neck, then in his back and finally in is butt.

A witness heard the defendant say after the shooting: “I shot him and then I shot him again to make sure he was dead.”

  1. also claimed in his statement that the victim had threatened him with a gun, that it had fallen on the ground and that he had picked it up and fired the shots. Then Leblanc had fallen backwards. But the police found the victim on his knees, face down on a couch.

Judge Maria Paulides asked the young defendant whether he regretted what had happened, a question he answered in the affirmative. The judge was not satisfied, or not convinced, so she asked a follow up question: does the defendant think that it is the victim’s fault that he was shot to death? “Yes,” the young man said.

Discussing the defendant’s personal circumstances, a remarkable fact came to light: while he will turn 18 on June 4, he is already the father of five children and he has contact with only one of them. “Or course,” he told the court in answer to the question whether he would financially take care of his children once he comes out of prison.

Prosecutor Karola van Nie considered the charges proven against G., who is detained at the Ms. Lalie Center in Cay Bay. For the manslaughter on Etienne Leblanc, the prosecutor demanded a 12-year prison sentence. “The evidence is based on the victim’s injuries. The statements the defendant has made do not check out and the father does not dare to say what he has really seen,” she said.

Attorney Remco Stomp called on self-defense and asked the court to acquit his client and if that argument does not succeed, he asks the court to drop all charges against his client.

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