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Browne and Melendez Plead Not Guilty in Christmas Shooting Spree

Jan. 30, 2008 — Luis "Gulio" Melendez and police officer Jeffrey Browne pleaded not guilty Wednesday to multiple counts of murder, attempted murder and other charges stemming from a deadly Christmas-morning shooting spree in the JFK Housing Community on St. Croix.
The incident 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 treated and released from Juan F. Luis Hospital.
Shortly after 9 a.m. Wednesday, Browne, 28, and Melendez were led into V.I. District Court on St. Croix in their red prison garb for arraignment. Browne, with nearly shaved head and close-cropped beard, came first, followed by the slighter Melendez sporting an unkempt three-inch afro. They said nothing, their attorneys speaking for them.
"My client pleads not guilty and requests a speedy trial by jury," said court-appointed attorney Bruce Bennett, representing Melendez.
A trial date was scheduled for 9 a.m. June 9 in St. Croix Superior Court, and a calendar call for 10 a.m. Feb. 11. Then the two were led out of the courtroom and the rest of the day's arraignments began.
For the time being, the case is under seal and information is limited. Superior Court Judge Francis D'Eramo ordered the proceedings sealed Jan. 2. Deputy Attorney General Charlotte Poole-Davis told the Source Jan. 10 the case 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," Poole-Davis said. "We don't want all of our evidence revealed to other suspects while we are still investigating."
The identities of one or more witnesses are one facet of the case being kept under seal.
Browne, the police officer, 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, according to a news release issued Sunday. (See "Police Officer Charged in Christmas Shooting Spree.")
Browne and Melendez are brothers-in-law. 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 a shooting Nov. 23 in Estate Bethlehem.
In that case, which is being tried separately, Melendez, Joseph Emanuel Rivera and Nathan Torres Echevaria allegedly shot a man in the face and back after calling the victim over to their car and asking to buy $10 worth of marijuana. The victim sustained three gunshot wounds: one to the cheek, one to the back and one to the left armpit. On Jan. 23 Melendez pleaded not guilty in that case to two counts of first-degree murder, four counts of attempted murder, four counts of aggravated assault, reckless endangerment, possession of a dangerous weapon during the commission of a crime of violence, and unauthorized possession or sale of firearms ammunition.
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