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Two Christmas Murder Suspects to be Held Without Bail

Jan. 11, 2007 — At a sealed detention hearing Thursday afternoon, V.I. Superior Court Judge Francis D'Eramo ordered accused double murderer Luis "Gulio" Melendez held without bail. His co-defendant, Police Officer Jeffrey Browne, had his detention hearing last Friday and on Tuesday, D'Eramo ruled Browne too will be held without bail.
Melendez, 24, and Browne, 28, both St. Croix residents, were arrested in connection with a deadly Christmas morning shooting spree in the JFK Housing Community. Allen Burke, 18, of Estate Anna's Hope, and Kennyetta McIntosh, 33, of No. 6 East Street, Christiansted were killed in the shootings. Four others were shot and have since been treated and released from Juan F. Luis Hospital. 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 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.")
D'Eramo ordered the proceedings sealed last Wednesday. Deputy Attorney General Charlotte Poole-Davis said it was sealed at the discretion of the judge, not the prosecuting attorneys from the office of the Attorney General, but sealing the proceedings was important in the short term.
"Our investigations are ongoing and we have other suspects out there," she said. "We don't want all of our evidence revealed to other suspects while we are still investigating. Once the investigation is further along, it may be unsealed but not at this juncture." Browne was arrested Dec. 30. Melendez was already in custody after being picked up Christmas Day on an unrelated alleged attempted murder charge stemming from a shooting Nov. 23 in Estate Bethlehem.
Browne and Melendez are brothers-in-law.
Another 17-year-old suspect was arrested at a traffic stop soon after the incident occurred 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. On Dec. 31, Police Chief Thomas Hannah confirmed that and other, unspecified evidence led to Browne's arrest. He would not elaborate, 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, a matter of procedure in cases involving a police officer, Hannah told the Source.
Melendez and Browne will probably be arraigned Jan. 16, Assistant Attorney General Cornelius Williams said after Thursday's hearing. At the arraignment the two will be advised of the charges against them and enter their pleas in response to those charges.
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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