15 years in prison demanded for fatally shooting father of seven

15 years in prison demanded for  fatally shooting father of seven

PHILIPSBURG--A man E.M. (28) is facing fifteen years behind bars for allegedly having shot and killed James Rudolf Marlin, Jr. at a pre-Carnival event at Cocky Turtle Beach Bar in the early morning hours of March 26.

After a fight with the defendant, the 33-year-old father of seven was shot in the face at close range and died two days later at St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC). Marlin never got to meet his youngest, who was born sometime after the shooting.

Although admitting that he had been involved in an altercation with the victim, M. denied pulling the trigger and ending Marlin’s life, during his trial in the Court of First Instance on Wednesday.

He told the court that he had seen Marlin watching him aggressively in the middle of the party and had asked the victim, “What you watching me for?”

“What you gon’ do about it?” Marlin said, according to M.

The defendant said he and Marlin had started exchanging words and the victim had hit him twice. It was then that he heard the gunshot, but did not know where the shot came from.

M. told the court that he ran away from the scene with the rest of the frightened party-goers and went home. The next morning, he said he saw his picture circulating on local social media with him being named as a suspect.

He said he had gone to the home of the victim’s family to tell them that he was innocent, but left before even getting out of the car. M. said he then met another man by a local supermarket who informed him that the victim’s family had guns and were ready to kill him in revenge.

M. said he fled the island in fear that same day, hopping on an Air Antilles flight from the French side’s Grand Case Airport to Guadeloupe. The day after that, he touched down in the Dominican Republic.

About a month later, M. boarded a flight back to St. Maarten and the St. Maarten Police Force KPSM arrested him after he stepped off the plane at Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA).

The prosecutor did not believe M.’s story of not being involved in the shooting, and considered the charges of manslaughter and gun possession proven based on witness testimony, tapped phone conversations, and audio recordings from nearby surveillance cameras.

Police interviewed several witnesses at the scene and in the days after the shooting.

One said they heard a man shout, “Marlin, tonight I gone done you.” Another mentioned the nickname of the defendant’s older brother and told police that it was the younger brother who was the shooter.

Some of the surveillance cameras in the area have embedded microphones and these picked up the conversations of the fleeing party-goers. In these recordings, an unidentified man could be heard telling another person, “I know who shoot,” and then called the defendant by his first name.

Another witness said they had seen the victim and another man pushing each other, which the man followed by pulling out a gun and shooting the victim “without hesitation.”

Two witnesses said they were afraid to testify and only did so anonymously to a judge of instruction. One said the security guards at the event were not checking attendees for weapons, and both identified the defendant as the shooter from the picture shared on social media.

The man that M. supposedly met at a supermarket also gave a statement to police.

He said he had called the defendant twice that morning. In one call, he said the defendant wanted to speak to the victim’s family and said that it was not his intention to shoot Marlin. M. denied saying this to the man.

Police also tapped the phones of the defendant’s family members and his ex-girlfriend in the days after the shooting.

In a phone call on April 4, the ex-girlfriend allegedly told the defendant, “Whatever happened it was like, you know, meant to be. Like, you did not do it on purpose.”

Eight days before that, police heard M.’s brother tell their mother that he would go to see the victim’s family. The brother reassured her that nothing would happen to him, because a relative of the victim had told him it was the defendant who messed up and not their entire family.

The prosecutor also did not believe that the defendant fled the island in fear, arguing that he left to avoid being arrested because he bought the ticket using another person’s name and e-mail address.

According to the sentencing guidelines of the Prosecutor’s Office, persons convicted of manslaughter should be given between 10 and 12 years in prison. However, the prosecutor said he had decided to demand a heavier sentence of 15 years because of the public nature of the shooting.

“The fatal shooting of James Marlin has affected the feelings of safety of many people, both people who were present at the party and people who were not there.After all, it was the beginning of the carnival season and many parties had yet to happen,” said the prosecutor.

The prosecutor also emphasised the loss to the victim’s children, summing it up by reading out a heartbreaking message sent to his phone after the shooting by the mother of his daughter. Marlin never got to read it himself.

The message said: “[Your daughter] loves you and she needs you. [She] just wake up and she’s asking for you.”

M.’s lawyer Safira Ibrahim pleaded for her client’s acquittal, arguing that there is insufficient evidence to convict him of manslaughter and gun possession.

She disagreed with the prosecutor’s theory that M. fled the island to avoid falling into the hands of police. Instead, she argued that her client’s statement to investigators, as well as those of his family members, prove that he ran away because he thought he would be killed. She also pointed to the fact that he had not been forced to return to St. Maarten, but did so on his own.

Ibrahim questioned the reliability and trustworthiness of witness testimony.

In the case of one witness, she said the person had not been able to accurately describe what the defendant was wearing that night at Cocky Turtle. This person said the shooter was bald and had on a hoodie and dark pants, but her client has a full head of hair and was wearing a T-shirt and blue jeans, Ibrahim argued.

As for the anonymous witnesses, the defence lawyer argued that they were not objective sources of information. Authorities did not present the witnesses with a photo array and only relied on the picture that had been circulating widely on social media, Ibrahim said, adding that this probably had influenced who they believed the gunman to be.

“There is a big chance that people would call my client’s name as the shooter because he was last seen in a quarrel with the victim,” Ibrahim said.

She also said the prosecution has not been able to answer the question of the missing gun. No firearm was found in the multiple searches of the defendant’s loved ones’ houses and surveillance camera footage of the defendant entering the party did not show that he had an object under his tight-fitting shirt, Ibrahim argued.

She also pointed out that the footage showed her client running away after the shooting in the middle of the frightened crowd. “If he had a gun on him, people would be afraid and stay/move away from him,” she said.

The judge will render a verdict in this case on November 8.

The Daily Herald

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