Jan. 3, 2007– During his final day in office, Gov. Charles W. Turnbull wiped clean the criminal records of 26 individuals and reduced the sentences of 11 others convicted of activities ranging from murder to armed robbery.
According to Jean Greaux, spokesperson for Gov. John deJongh, the list of executive pardons and commutations — a pardon expunges an individual's criminal record, while a commutation reduces an inmate's sentence but leaves their criminal record intact — was delivered to the Department of Justice Tuesday afternoon by Turnbull's assistant legal counsel Queen Terry. At the time the information was delivered, Turnbull was no longer the territory's governor.
"Gov. deJongh had no clue what was going on until Justice received the pardons yesterday afternoon," Greaux said when contacted Wednesday. "But the governor is troubled and alarmed by the number of pardons and commutations which came at the end of Gov. Turnbull's administration."
A press release issued late Tuesday afternoon by Government House included a list of the 37 pardons and commutations, along with the criminal records of the individuals whose sentences were being reduced. The records of those who had been granted an executive pardon were not included in the information sent to the Source.
According to the records, some of the inmates with commutated, or reduced, sentences are repeat offenders, charged with crimes such as murder, robbery, solicitation of prostitution and forgery. While a majority of the cases date back at least 10 years, others, such as the case of Marcus Garvey Johnson, came before the courts as recently as December of 2006.
In the information sent Tuesday by Government House, Turnbull writes that Johnson's sentence — 12 years in prison for unlawful sexual contact– appears to be "extremely harsh."
The inmates, sentenced in some cases to up to 70 years in prison, have not served all of their time in jail. However, Turnbull has, in commuting their sentences, released several of the prisoners, reducing their sentences to the time they have already served.
One such individual is Reuben Dowling, who has twice been sentenced to 70 years in prison for armed robbery. Dowling has served 25 years on his most recent conviction, which came in 1985, but has had his sentence reduced to "time served."
Keith Benjamin, convicted in 1981 of first-degree murder, was sentenced to life without parole. While Benjamin has served approximately 25 years, his sentence has also been commutated to "time served."
Albert A. Sheen Jr., convicted in 1994 of second-degree murder for killing his father, has also had his sentenced reduced to "time served." Sheen was sentenced to 30 years in prison. According to the documents provided by Government House, Sheen's mother, attorney J'Ada Finch Sheen, had written a letter to Turnbull requesting that her son's sentence be commutated.
Luis E. Quinones Jr., charged in the shooting death of Jamalie Henry, was only 17 when he was sentenced to 20 years in prison for second-degree murder. Quinones also received a 15-year sentence, to be served concurrently, for possession of a firearm with an obliterated serial number.
According to the records, Quinones (a student at the St. Croix Central High School) was allegedly attacked by Henry (a student at the St. Croix Educational Complex) in 2004. After being "kicked and punched," Quinones shot Henry with a gun found in his backpack. Quinones' sentence is being reduced to seven-and-a-half years.
A majority of the individuals for whom pardons have been issued have already completed their sentences and will now, with Turnbull's order, be able to have their records expunged. In these cases, the crimes include embezzlement, burglary, grand larceny, possession of marijuana and "negligent homicide by means of motor vehicle."
The negligent homicide charge applies to Adrian Marc Kean, a St. Thomas resident charged in 2003 with the death of Delores Tahita Winkler. Kean was sentenced to two years in prison (all of which was suspended), fined $1,275 and placed on supervised probation for two years.
Another vehicular homicide case, involving St. Thomas resident Jack Petersen, had been "dismissed with prejudice" in 1997. Without the pardon, the charge will remain on Petersen's records, even though there is "currently no action pending against him," Turnbull writes.
In his orders, Turnbull often states that the individuals have not committed any repeat offenses and have been found to be "law-abiding citizens."
Other pardons issued include:
–Wakumba Husani Riera, who was arrested in 1994 and charged with murder in the first degree. While the case was dismissed without prejudice, Riera was also arrested in 1998 for aggravated assault and battery and 1999 for with disturbing the peace;
–Dean A. Molloy, convicted in 1990 of first-degree murder and second-degree possession of a dangerous weapon. Molloy's sentence– seven-and-a-half years in prison– has already been served;
–Orville Bergan, sentenced in 1999 for third-degree assault and aggravated assault and battery (as a result of the conviction, Bergan was deported back to St. Kitts. In his order, Turnbull writes that the pardon will allow Bergan to return to the Virgin Islands).
–Stephen Monsanto, sentenced in 2001 for two counts of embezzlement (sentence has been served);
–Wilbur A. Sprauve, sentenced in 1995 for unlawful sexual contact (sentence has been served);
–Jamie Roebuck, sentenced in 2000 for obtaining money under false pretenses, forgery and acting in assumed character (sentence has been served);
–Hansel Tyson, sentenced in 1987 for embezzlement (sentence has been served);
–Kevin Dawson, sentenced in 1982 for grand larceny and third-degree burglary (sentence has been served);
–Stephen Delemos, sentenced in 1991 for the unauthorized use of a vehicle (sentence has been served);
–Wayne Donadelle Jr, sentenced in 2003 on two counts of aggravated assault and battery (sentence has been served);
–Dwight I. Durant, sentenced in 1998 for disturbing the peace (sentence has been served);
–Lennard E. Finley, sentenced in 1991 for third-degree assault and two counts of brandishing and using a deadly weapon (sentence has been served);
–Alford Westley Forbes, sentenced in 1984 for the distribution of a controlled substance (sentence has been served);
–Michael Harris, sentenced in 1989 for grand larceny, third-degree burglary and possession and sale of stolen property (sentence has been served);
–Dina Hermon, convicted of embezzlement (sentence has been served);
–Charlene D. Jackson, convicted of embezzlement (sentence has been served);
–Ignatius Lawrence, sentenced in 2001 for aggravated assault and battery, and battery/domestic violence (sentence has been served);
–Alvin J. Paul, sentenced in 1990 for third-degree burglary (Paul was sentenced to four years in prison, but served two-and-a-half years when he was discharged);
–Conrad Seraphin, sentenced in 2001 for aggravated assault and battery and battery/domestic violence (sentenced has been served);
–Petula Stephens, sentenced in 1992 for embezzlement (sentence has been served);
–Patasha Tracey, sentenced in 1994 and 1995 for third-degree assault (sentence has been served;
–Joanne Yvette Turnbull, sentenced in 1990 for aggravated assault and battery, disturbing the peace and willfully resisting, delaying, and obstructing a police officer in the discharge of duty (sentence has been completed);
–George Van Holten Jr., sentenced in 1990 (charges have not been specified, but the sentence has already been completed); and
–Tiba Asaina Francis, sentenced in 2001 for aggravated rape (in this case, Francis who was 18 at the time, was convicted of statutory rape. Later, it was discovered that the victim, allegedly 17-year-old minor, had
lied about her age).
–Robert Bastian, convicted in 2002 of unlawful sexual contact and solicitation of prostitution, and again in 2003 for the unlawful possession of a firearm (Bastian was sentenced to 13-and-a-half years for the first set of charges, and another six months for the possession of a firearm. His sentence is being reduced to time served);
–John Gardier Jr, sentenced in 2002 for forging his father's checks in the amount of $13,000 (Gardier was sentenced to nine years in prison– his sentence is being reduced to time served);
–Rashon Lewis, sentenced in 1996 for aggravated rape, robbery in the first degree and the unlawful possession of a firearm (Lewis was sentenced to 25 years in prison for the rape charge, 15 years for the robbery charge and two years for the firearm– to be served concurrently. After serving 10 years, his sentence has been reduced to time served);
–Michael Scot Salaz, sentenced in 2004 for one count of rape in the second degree (in the executive pardon order, Turnbull describes Salaz's 10-year sentence as "harsh," and has reduced it to time served);
–Mead Lawrence, sentenced in 1996 to 20 years in prison for first-degree robbery, 10 years for possession of an unlicensed firearm and 20 years for two counts of stolen property, with all sentences running concurrently (Mead, who has served more than 10 years, has had his sentence reduced to time served); and
–Vincent Georges Jr, sentenced in 1996 to 20 years for first-degree robbery, three years for the possession of an unlicensed firearm, 10 years for the possession of a stolen vehicle and two-and-a-half years for the possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, with all sentences running concurrently (Georges, who has served more than 10 years, has had his sentence reduced to time served).
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