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Trial Gets Under Way in Aguilar Murder

Sept. 25, 2009 — Day one of the murder trial stemming from the shooting death of St. Thomas architect Carlos Aguilar last October started Wednesday in Superior Court.
Judge James Carroll III is presiding over the jury trial of 20-year-old Akeel Codrington, who is charged with first-degree murder and weapons possession for allegedly shooting Aguilar on Oct. 16 on Smith Bay Rd, outside of Sapphire Beach Resort. Aguilar died a week later in Roy Lester Schneider Hospital, with his wife and family gathered at his bedside.
The shooting occurred after Aguilar and his wife, Verian, responded to an alarm at their Smith Bay home which had just been burglarized. Aguilar reportedly saw a red Mitsubishi auto leaving the area and gave chase, colliding with it on Smith Bay Rd.
The accident slowed traffic, and two taxi passengers claiming to be eyewitnesses to the shooting testified Wednesday.
According to a report published in the Virgin Islands Daily News, Steve Ramsey, who was traveling in a safari van during a cruise ship call, testified that he saw the collision and watched the two drivers leave their cars and approach each other. Ramsey reportedly said he was completely sure that Codrington was the shooter. The Daily News said Ramsey testified that he saw Codrington shoot Aguilar, who then reportedly fled back to his vehicle, only to be shot a second time when Codrington reportedly walked up and fired again.
Another witness and visitor to the island that day claims he saw Codrington running toward him as he fled the scene, according to the Daily News account. It went on to say that Brian Russell of Colorado positively identified Codrington, supporting forensics testimony on Wednesday claiming Codrington's fingerprints were all over the Mitsubishi.
Also on the stand Wednesday, according to the published report, was Verian Aguilar, who apparently testified that her husband answered his cell phone after she heard gunshots and called him in a panic. The Daily News said her relief at hearing his voice vanished when he told her he had been shot, prompting her to call 911 and rush to his side.
Verian, a teacher at Antilles School, is described as having battled tears as she detailed the ensuing days in the hospital that preceded Aguilar's death on Oct. 23.
While the prosecutor reportedly argued Wednesday that Aguilar's death was brazen and senseless, the defense attorney was said to be painting a portrait of vigilante justice resulting from Aguilar's pursuit of the Mitsubishi.
Codrington turned himself into police the day after the shooting, claiming he was driving the Mitsubishi, but denying he was the gunman. A month later, he was charged with murder.
More witnesses were slated to testify Thursday, the Daily News reported.
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