Man puts early release at risk with case of ill-treatment

1403
Sint Maarten Courthouse

 

Source Today Newspaper

Attorney Geert Hatzmann
Attorney Geert Hatzmann

GREAT BAY – For threatening a man who was with his ex-girlfriend, ill-treating him and stealing his bag and his shoes, Jean Joel Michel Jerome Hodge was sentenced to a 3-month prison sentence in the Court in First Instance this week.

In September 2007, the appeals court sentenced Hodge to 15 years for the manslaughter on Kemar Lloyd Grayson on May 13, 2006. The men got into a deadly altercation after a minor traffic accident. He was released after serving two-thrid of his sentence, but his early release is now potentially in jeopardy.

The latest incident took place on April 23, when the 29-year old Hodge barged into the building where his victim was with his ex-girlfriend Larissa. He hit his victim with the weapon on his head, took his shoes and his bag and left. The girlfriend confirmed the plaintiff’s story, but later she went back to the police to change her statement.

Hodge claimed in court that he had never met the guy he is accused of having ill-treated.

Police learned however from phone taps that Larissa has been threatened and forced to change her statement to the police. However, in her first statement she said that she does not want any contact with Hodge, “because he is crazy.”

On Tuesday Larissa went to the police, now saying that she stood by the first statement she made about the incident.

Prosecutor Nanouk Lemmers considered the charges against Hodge proven, based on the victim’s complaint and the supporting statement of Hodge’s ex-girlfriend. She demanded a 3-month prison sentence and announced that she would ask the minister of justice to revoke the early release for Hodge’s 2007 conviction.

Attorney Geert Hatzmann said that the dossier was ‘remarkable’ and that the firearm Hodge allegedly used had not been found. He dismissed the changing statements of the ex-girlfriend for lack of credibility and said that the element of pain is missing from the summons and that therefore the charge of ill-treatment cannot stand. Hatzmann concluded that his client should be acquitted.

Judge Dirk Gruijters disagreed, saying that there are strong indications that the ex-girlfriend had been pressured by Hodge to change her statement. “It is sufficiently clear what happened here,” he noted and sentenced Hodge to 3 months of imprisonment, adding that the prosecutor’;s demand was “very mild.”