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HomeNewsLocal newsJudges to Weigh In on Continued Detention for Accused Cop Killer

Judges to Weigh In on Continued Detention for Accused Cop Killer

Where or whether an accused cop killer stays behind bars may soon be decided by a federal judge. (Source file photo)

A federal judge may soon decide if an illegal weapons charge filed against an accused cop killer should be dismissed. The lawyer representing Richardson Dangleben Jr. filed his latest arguments to drop the charge in District Court over the weekend.

Dangleben has been held in custody since his arrest in connection with the fatal shooting of police detective Delberth Phipps Jr. on July 4 on St. Thomas. The two exchanged gunfire during a confrontation where Phipps and other officers responded to a report of an armed man seen walking in an area called Jah Yard.

At the time, the defendant was out on bail, awaiting trial on a murder charge. Now jailed at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Puerto Rico, Dangleben is charged with a federal count of first-degree murder of a police officer in the performance of his duty.

A second charge of possessing a firearm with a defaced serial number has been the subject of a motion to dismiss filed by Federal Public Defender Matthew Campbell. After prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office filed its opposition, Chief District Court Judge Robert Molloy gave Campbell a chance to answer the argument filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kyle Payne.

Campbell cited a Supreme Court ruling about a citizen’s right to carry a concealed weapon in public. Payne’s opposing motion said that right applied to law-abiding citizens and did not apply to Dangleben.

On Friday, Campbell said the government was wrong, adding that the legal case Payne cited in his opposition “ … did not forbid prohibitions of firearms by felons or the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places, or laws limiting the commercial sale of firearms.”

It will now be up to Molloy to decide which party prevails and whether Dangleben remains in federal detention if the firearms charge is dropped.

But while the legal sparring played out in District Court, new developments appeared in the first-degree murder case against Dangleben from Feb. 24. That was the day police said the defendant fatally shot Keith Jennings during an alleged domestic violence dispute.

On July 25 — three weeks after Phipps’ death — Superior Court Judge Denise Francois revoked Dangleben’s bail in the Jennings case. The motion to revoke came from the V.I. Department of Justice on July 5, the day after the detective was killed.

The revocation raises the possibility that even if the federal gun charge is dismissed, Dangleben will still find himself behind bars, pending trial.

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