Youngsters committed eight armed robberies


~ Trial moved to June ~

By Today Newspaper

GREAT BAY – Four youngsters – aged between 17 and 21 – will stand trial on June 15 for eight armed robberies of which three were committed on the French side. Yesterday the four suspects appeared in court for a pro forma hearing.

The suspects are Keneil Jonathan L. (21), Andrae Alexander L. (18), Felix M.R. (17) and Marlando G. (17).

They are accused of robbing the Dollar Store on the L.B. Scott Road twice – on December 23 of last year and on January 4. On January 12, the four attempted to rob a woman in her home on Back Street and later robbed the Wah Yun supermarket in Cole Bay. The youngsters also robbed a supermarket on Pointe Blanche. They are also suspected of three armed robberies on the French side.

The victim arrived home when she noticed two men inside dressed in dark clothing and with their faces covered. When she tried to leave, one of the men held her back, threatened her with a knife and demanded that she hand over her shoulder bag.

But when the victim started screaming, the men fled on foot.

One and a half hour later they robbed the Wah Yun supermarket in Cole Bay. They entered the place armed with a gun, a knife and a hammer and robbed two clients of their cash and stole an undisclosed amount of money from the store.

The prosecution charges the four suspects also with possession of a firearm and a knife.

The reason for moving the trial to June is that the gendarmerie transferred the three robberies on the French side only recently to the prosecutor’s office. The test of the knife by the Dutch forensic Institute NFI is not complete yet and the police force delivered a report from its forensic department only this week.

While prosecutor Nanouk Lemmers proposed to move the trial to June 15 at 2 p.m., Judge Maria Paulides – back in St. Maarten for the first time since August of last year – doubted whether the case could be handled in one afternoon, but later agreed with the date.

Attorney Sjamira Roseburg asked the court for a psychological evaluation of her client Keneil L., and the judge granted it in spite of objections from the prosecutor, who did not see the need for it.

Attorney Geert Hatzmann asked the court to suspend the detention of his clients Andrae L. and Felix M.R.

“They attempted to find an amicable solution with the owner of the Dollar Store,” he said. “These boys are very young and there is no need to stigmatize them by treating them as criminals. They have to go to school. We have to focus on re-socialization.”

Hatzmann suggested suspension under strict conditions in combination with an ankle bracelet and weekly reporting to the police.

Prosecutor Lemmers objected, saying that the charges are “much too serious to release them, even though they are very young. I anticipate a sturdy demand for punishment and I would not be able to explain their release.”

Judge Paulides rejected the request for suspension.