Community service for fighting students

Sint Maarten Courthouse


Source Today Newspaper

GREAT BAY – The courthouse was not short of suspects yesterday morning as seven youngsters sat in front of the bench to give account for their involvement in a fight between students on March 17 of last year. After a hearing that lasted well past noon, the court gave each suspect a 2-week conditional prison sentence with 2 years of probation and community service varying from 60 to 140 hours.

The court sentenced Martel Hartley (20) to 60 hours of community service, Angelo Chance (17), Davinio David Charles (18) and Ashmore Hodge (17) to 100 hours, Randall Richardson (who turned 18 today) to 120 hours and Jermone Jermi Jones (19) and Erwin Junior Smith (18) to 140 hours.

Two of the defendants, Jones and Hartley were also involved in a second fight that took place on a school bus on March 31 of last year in an apparent retaliation for the first fight, whereby Hartley supposedly asked Jones: “Which of these punks hit you?”

The prosecutor said that there were two groups involved in the first fight. “Both groups are guilty of this,” she said. “They voluntarily participated while they had the opportunity to walk away. This is not a matter of self-defense; they committed public violence and the public order was also a victim in this case.”

The prosecutor also found proof for an unrelated charge of car theft against Erwin Smith, who had driven away with a car that had previously been stolen, on May 1 of last year.

Attorneys for the seven defendants said that it is not possible to establish who did what during the first. Geert Hatzmann noted that Davinio Charles was the one who had sought the confrontation with the others. Safira Ibrahim, the attorney for Smith, agreed with this as did Sjamira Roseburg, the attorney for Randall Richardson.

Chris de Jong, the attorney for Martel Hartley, said that his client had not hit anybody.

The court ruled however that all the defendants had used violence. Two of them – Richardson and Smith – used weapons, the others did not; at least – that could not be established though there were stab wounds on both sides.

The court concluded from the file that Charles had sought the confrontation and that the others had joined in. “There was a conscious and close cooperation. Even if it is established that a defendant did not use a weapon he is still responsible because both groups had weapons,” the judge ruled.

The court dismissed the argument of self-defense. “Self-defense has to be necessary in a situation where there is no alternative. I don’t see it,” the judge said. “There really was a possibility to walk way, nobody stopped anybody.”

The judge agreed with the prosecutor’s proposal to impose community service. “You have to feel that you cannot do this,” he said.