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No Ruling Yet on Bail for Browne, Melendez

Jan. 4, 2007 — No immediate rulings were made Friday at a sealed detention hearing on St. Croix to determine whether Luis "Gulio" Melendez and V.I. Police Officer Jeffrey Browne will be held in jail without bail during their murder trial.
V.I. Superior Court Judge Francis D'Eramo continued Melendez's hearing to 1:30 p.m Jan. 10. The judge heard arguments regarding Browne and said he will probably issue a ruling in the next few business days. After the hearing, prosecuting attorney Kip Roberson confirmed these technical details but referred all other questions to Assistant Attorney General Charlotte Poole-Davis. Calls to Poole-Davis' office were not answered Friday, a government holiday.
Melendez, 24, and Browne, 28, St. Croix residents and brothers in law, were arrested in connection to a deadly Christmas-morning shooting spree in the JFK Housing Community. The shootings resulted in the deaths of Allen Burke, 18, of Estate Anna's Hope, and Kennyetta McIntosh, 33, of No. 6 East Street, Christiansted. Four other victims sustained various gunshot wounds and have since been released from Juan F. Luis Hospital following treatment.
Browne was arrested Dec. 30. Melendez was already in custody after being picked up Christmas Day on an unrelated attempted murder charge in connection with an alleged shooting Nov. 23 in Estate Bethlehem.
Browne has been on sick leave from the VIPD for the past five months, and since his arrest has been placed on administrative leave without pay. (See "Police Officer Charged in Christmas Shooting Spree.")
Another 17-year-old suspect was arrested at a traffic stop soon after the incident and charged with unlawful possession of a firearm. The youth told police he stopped his vehicle and picked up the weapon after seeing it tossed from Browne's vehicle. That information and other unspecified evidence led to Browne's arrest, Hannah said Monday. He would not elaborate further, saying the case is under seal as the investigation continues. As a minor, the youth's identity is being kept confidential. He has been remanded to the St. Croix Youth Rehabilitation Center.
The FBI is also looking into the case. The FBI is called as a matter of procedure in cases involving a police officer, Hannah told the Source.
The detention hearing was initially held Wednesday. At that time, Browne's attorney, Pamela Colon, requested a sealed detention hearing, arguing it was necessary to protect witnesses. When D'Eramo announced his decision to seal the hearing, there was an uproar from friends and families of the victims in the courtroom. The court was largely cleared as a result.
Browne and Melendez are charged with two counts of first-degree murder, four counts of attempted murder, four counts of first-degree assault, reckless endangerment, three counts of unauthorized used of a deadly weapon during the commission of a crime of violence, and unauthorized possession of ammunition.
Browne is on administrative leave without pay, pending the outcome of the case.
Police Chief Thomas Hannah asks that anyone with information contact him at 712-6004 or call the Criminal Investigation Bureau at 712-6037 or 712-6038.
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