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Judge Issues Key Rulings in Donastorg Case

A tentative trial date of Aug. 30 has been set for Sen. Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg, whose domestic violence case took another step forward this week after V.I. Superior Court Judge Adam Christian handed down a series of key rulings on motions during a pre-trial conference on St. Thomas.
Donastorg was arrested in late March on charges that he assaulted his 19-year-old girlfriend during a Jan. 28 incident on St. Thomas, and threatened her with a gun. Along with aggravated assault, Donastorg is also facing charges of third-degree assault under domestic violence laws, brandishing a deadly weapon and using a dangerous weapon during the commission of a crime of violence.
The case has taken several twists and turns since Donastorg’s arrest — particularly after the victim of the alleged dispute, referred to in court documents as "K.E.," claimed that she was bribed by two people close to the deJongh administration to file a false police complaint.
Donastorg’s camp subsequently filed a motion to prevent "K.E." from testifying during trial, which Christian denied during this week’s hearing.
Christian also denied another motion filed last month by Donastorg’s camp asking the judge to quash a government subpoena that would have already brought the victim in for questioning.
According to Donastorg attorney Gordon Rhea, an initial subpoena was issued before Donastorg was charged, while a second "investigative subpoena" was issued after charges were filed—but by the attorney general, instead of a judge during the normal discovery process, the motion says.
In court this week, Christian denied the motion, allowing the government to issue the subpoena, but telling the attorneys they would have to use the court’s rules if they were looking for additional information for the case.
Christian also denied a government motion asking that he recuse himself from the case. In court documents, the government argues that Donastorg was one of the senators who voted against Christian when his nomination for a seat on the Superior Court bench came to the Senate floor.
"The defendant voted against your honor’s confirmation, and thus, if the defendant is found guilty by a jury, some in the public may conclude, whether erroneously or not, that this was achieved in part because your honor made rulings that were designed to tilt the scales of justice in the government’s favor," the government’s motion said.
In a response filed with the court, Donastorg opposed the motion, saying that he "has no reason to believe that Judge Christian harbors any ill will toward him because of the vote that he cast in his position as senator."
Christian denied the motion during this week’s hearing, saying, according to other published media reports, that he has no prejudice against Donastorg and finds that "no disqualification is required."
Christian also denied a government motion to disqualify Judith Bourne as the attorney for the victim in the case, but granted a government motion to allow the jury to visit the crime scene once the trial begins.

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