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Saturday, May 18, 2024


May 23, 2001 – A 32-year-old New Jersey man was charged Tuesday in the shootings above a Midtown Manhattan deli that left St. John resident Charles "Trey" Helliwell and two other persons dead and island shops owner Rosemond Dane and another individual wounded.
According to New York press accounts, Andre S. Smith admitted Monday night after lengthy interrorgation to having been present at the May 10 shootings but denied having fired any shots. He was charged with three counts of second-degree murder, one of first-degree robbery and one of second-degree robbery.
Authorities are continuing to search for the suspect first identified by police, Sean Salley, 19, whom Smith reportedly has named as the gunman. News accounts said the hunt is concentrated in New Jersey and in Georgia and Louisiana, where Salley is said to have relatives and friends, but his description and photograph also were sent to Interpol in Europe.
New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik said Tuesday that Smith's fingerprints were found on duct tape used to bind some of the victims, all of whom were shot in the head.
Smith reportedly confessed to taking part in the robbery that was the impetus for the shootings and to binding the victims, and named Salley as the other assailant. Smith surrendered to police on Sunday after learning that investigators had been to his home in Irvington, N.J.
The case remains a major news item in New York, where Smith's arraignment played as the front-page story on Wednesday's New York Post.
Kerik publicly blasted New Jersey parole officials Tuesday, saying Smith, a convicted felon paroled in January 2000 after serving time for armed robbery, remained free after a Feb. 23, 2001, arrest for possession of marijuana in a school zone, when he should have had his parole revoked. "He should not have been out," Kerik said.
According to newspaper accounts, Smith did not say anything at his brief arraignment Tuesday night and was ordered held without bail.
Police have said the shootings stemmed from what was planned as a robbery in the Seventh Avenue apartment of Jennifer Stahl, a frequent St. John visitor, above the landmark Carnegie Deli. Stahl operated a high-grade marijuana retail business out of her residence, police say, and the assailants fled after the shootings with about $1,000 in cash and a dozen quarter-ounce bags of marijuana worth $1,800 on the street.
The New York Times said in its Wednesday issue that shooting survivor Anthony Veader picked Smith out of a lineup Tuesday morning. But the New York Daily News on Wednesday reported that neither Veader nor Dane "could say who fired the shots." Ballistics tests determined that the same gun was used for all of the shootings.
The Times reported that Smith told detectives Salley's gun accidentally discharged, striking Stahl in the forehead, as he confronted her during the robbery. "Then, investigators said, the gunmen decided they would have to kill the four other people in the apartment to cover their tracks," the Times article stated.
Media accounts said Smith had met Salley just two days before the shootings through a third man said to have been Salley's cousin. The Post said Salley proposed robbing Stahl after Smith complained of a lack of cash, Smith rejected the idea, Salley brought it up again two days later, and this time Smith agreed to the plan.
On St. John, meantime, a sense of shock remains, along with concern for the well-being of Dane and her family members. Friends of Helliwell and Dane gathered at Gibney Beach last Thursday evening to hold a memorial service for Helliwell and to say prayers for Dane, who was released from a New York hospital on May 15. "It was a beautiful service," one attendee, who asked not to be named, said. "All of Trey's and Rosemond's friends organized it as a group effort. It just came together by people showing up."
In contrast, the New York Daily News reported Friday that six friends — former drug customers — of Stahl's had held "a secret memorial service" for her on May 11, the day after the shootings, "sadly celebrating a wasted life."
One of them told the newspaper that Stahl, a onetime actress who was pursuing a career as a singer and had set up a small recording studio in her apartment, "was a good person who was generous, who treated people kindly and fairly." The friends said she had provided marijuana at no cost to AIDS and cancer patients and that her apartment was a place for networking among actors and producers.
An associate of Dane's, who also asked not to be named, said Dane's three Cruz Bay shops — the Silverlining jewelry store and the adjacent Heads Up and Hecho a Mano (Spanish for "hand-made") boutiques — "are open for business as usual. Everything's normal here in that respect."
However, this individual added, "Rosemund is not coming back for a while."

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