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Judge Denies Bail for Double Homicide Suspect

Using statements provided to police by three witnesses to Monday’s deadly shootout at Coki Point Beach, V.I. Superior Court Judge James S. Carroll III found enough evidence to deny bail for 22-year-old Steve D. Tyson, who will now remain in jail until his trial.
Tyson is facing life in prison with two counts of first-degree murder for the shooting deaths of 18-year-old Shahid Joseph and 14-year-old Lizmarie Perez Chaparro, who were slain after an apparent gun battle broke out at the beach early Monday morning. Joseph, according to police, had been attending a funeral in the area when he was gunned down, while Chaparro was visiting the island with her family, who were traveling aboard a safari that got caught in the crossfire.
In a bail hearing Thursday, the government’s case focused on Joseph’s murder, and relied on testimony provided by Police Detective Dwight Griffith, who went through three witness statements for the judge — all of which identified the shooter as either a passenger or driver in a red Honda Civic, or red car, that was leaving the beach. The shots hit a man they said was walking at the side of the road, who eventually died at the scene.
Griffith said the first witness knew Tyson, knew his car, saw him fire the first shots, then picked his picture out of a photo array. The second witness, a taxi driver, said he glimpsed two occupants in the red car and claimed the shots were fired out of the passenger side. Meanwhile, a third witness — an Australian tourist who was grazed by a bullet while also traveling on a safari van — also singled out the driver of the red car, then reported seeing Joseph turn around and fall, while someone ran out to help him, Griffith said on the stand.
Carroll said when making his decision, he considered whether the witnesses were known and named individuals, and whether their statements were reliable, given in a "reasonable" amount of time after the incident occurred and corroborated one another. In most cases, Carroll said later, the answer to those questions was yes.
The statements also supported the idea that Tyson — in accordance with the definition of first-degree murder — deliberately opened fire on Joseph as he left the beach. A medical examiner’s report showed that Joseph was shot twice from behind, with one bullet hitting the right shoulder and the other entering through the right side of the neck and traveling upward to the brain, Griffith said on the stand.
"This was beyond a spontaneous act," Carroll said later. "There was a plan involved. It was not in self-defense."
Finally, Carroll said he considered testimony that Tyson had, after the incident, stayed in contact with a local law enforcement officer, and said through either text messages or phone conversations that he had "f**ked up." According to Griffith’s testimony, Tyson also asked that agent whether police would need the gun, and what time he should come down to the police station and turn himself in.
That agent, Griffith said, had known Tyson from working with him in the past, and had confirmed that Tyson was the owner of the red Honda Civic that was seen at the beach and later picked up by officers.
Carroll said the statements and Tyson’s seeming "admissions" sealed the deal for him with regards to Joseph’s murder — which was all that was needed to get the bail revoked — but said the case for Chaparro’s murder was still uncertain, since police have not yet proven whether Tyson, Joseph or a third individual fired the fatal shot.
According to one witness, Joseph is said to have fired back after Tyson, along with another unidentified individual who picked up the gun after Joseph died.
Griffith said the medical examiner’s report revealed that Chaparro died from a single bullet that traveled from her left to right side, across the chest, hitting both the lungs and heart.
Tyson’s arraignment is set for 11:30 a.m. next Thursday.

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