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Tuesday, June 18, 2024


Nov. 26, 2001 – Based on DNA test findings, prosecutors on Monday moved to drop the first-degree murder and weapons charges against former Antilles School senior class president Ian Tracy, accused nearly 11 months ago of killing his girlfriend.
Attornery General Iver Stridiron said the results of DNA testing conducted at FBI laboratories appear to exonerate Tracy and corroborate the version of events that Tracy has stuck to from the start of the investigation: that an armed man approached him and his girlfriend in their vehicle and a shot from the man's gun killed the young woman.
Stridiron said it would be up to Territorial Court Judge Ishmael Meyers to accept the V.I. Justice Department motion, but that prosecutors believe they do not have enough evidence to gain a conviction if the case against Tracy were to go to trial.
"It is clear to us that we would not be able to get a conviction," he said Monday. "Our job is to obtain justice. If evidence points to a dismissal, we'll do that."
Tracy, a student at Middlebury College in Vermont, was arrested Jan. 8 and charged with the murder of his girlfriend, Adassa Rolle, on Dec. 31, 2000, on the Green Cay Plantation grounds.
The young man had called police almost immediately after the shooting, and when investigators arrived to talk with him near Donkey Hill, he told them that he had parked in a vehicle with Rolle at the isolated Green Cay Plantation site.
There, Tracy had told investigators, a gunman approached the vehicle, the two men had struggled and the gun had gone off. A bullet hit Rolle in the head, and she was later pronounced dead.
But detectives arrested Tracy about one week later. In a court hearing where Territorial Court Judge Audrey Thomas-Francis found probable cause to support his arrest, investigators indicated that Tracy's version of events did not appear to mesh with physical evidence at the scene. Thomas-Francis noted then that the evidentiary standard for finding "probable cause" is far lower than it would be to gain a conviction.
Tracy later was released on $300,000 bail under conditions that allowed him to return to Vermont to resume his studies.
His attorney, Treston Moore, had repeatedly asked prosecutors to turn over the forensic evidence they had against his client, without success. It turned out that medical samples and other evidence had not been sent off island for FBI lab analysis until more than six months after the arrest.
Earlier this month, Anthony Oranato, an FBI laboratory DNA technician, said that preliminary DNA results from testing of blood found inside and outside the vehicle where Rolle was shot indicated that a second male had been present at the scene.
Based on that report, and taking into account that the evidence corroborated Tracy's version of events from the beginning, Stridiron said, he decided to ask the judge to drop the case. Prosecutors have requested that the charges be dismissed "without prejudice," which would allow them to refile the case if new evidence should come to light.
"That report tends to confirm the defendant's version of the facts — specifically, that he was struggling with another man, a stranger, when the weapon was discharged," Assistant Attorney General Lofton Holder wrote in his motion to have the charges dismissed. "The government does not have any other witnesses to the event, and other evidence collected at the scene fails to implicate the defendant … Although there may be inconsistencies in some of the evidence, there is insufficient evidence for the government to sustain its burden of proving the elements of the crimes charged beyond a reasonable doubt."
Stridiron said Monday that he hoped and expected that Tracy would cooperate with investigators as they search for the gunman who killed Rolle, who at the time was an employee at Marriott's Frenchman's Reef Beach Resort.
The attorney general did not comment on any leads investigators might have. According to Moore, he has provided investigators the names of several people he interviewed who had information about the case. Stridiron said the DNA evidence that appears to exonerate Tracy can also be used in efforts to identify a second man at the scene.

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