Supermarket robbers face long prison sentences

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By the Today Newspaper

GREAT BAY – Two teenagers who attempted to rob the Star Ocean supermarket in Dutch Quarter on March 20 and shortly afterwards were more successful at the nearby Lucky Star supermarket are facing 70  months and 6 years of imprisonment respectively. Jean Ely F. and his cousin Keanu Valencia A. (both 19) will hear the verdict in their case on September 16.

When the two went to rob the Star Ocean supermarket, the owner managed to close the door in their face. They then moved to the Lucky Star supermarket where they robbed around $200. A description of the suspects given by the Star Ocean supermarket owner set the police on the robbers’ trail. They managed to arrest the two in the garden of Keanu A. Both teenagers were still panting and sweaty from the run they had made after the robbery. On a scooter, officers found a black balaclava, similar to the one, one of the robbers had worn.

Video footage also showed similarities between the clothing of the robbers and that of the two suspects. In particular, a belt with a noticeable buckle worn by Jean F. stood out.

The boys explained their panting and their sweaty condition saying they had been weightlifting, but police officers found no indication that this could be a true statement.

Prosecutor Nanouk Lemmers demanded 6 years against Keanu A. and 70 months against Jean F. The demand against the latter is higher because he stood also accused of threatening his neighbors.

Attorney Geert Hatzmann  considered the arrest of his clients unlawful. “My client A. could not be considered a suspect just because he was sweating an breathing heavily,” Hatzmann said. “He was afraid.” The attorney asked the court to exclude the clothing from evidence, and furthermore contested the similarities between his clients’ clothing and that of the robbers.

“They have denied that the balaclava is theirs so that has no value as evidence either,” he said.

Hatzmann pointed out that, while his clients had been arrested shortly after the robbery, police had not found a firearm or the $200 that were allegedly stolen from the Lucky Star supermarket. For lack of evidence, he asked the court to acquit both defendants.

Hatzmann said that the charge against Jean F. for threatening his neighbors rest solely on the complaint from the couple. “It is logic al that they support each other, but my client deserves the benefit of the doubt and should be acquitted. It does not make sense to send a 19-year old boy for 6 years to prison. If you do that, you are throwing him away.”