One of the crime scenes (file photo)
PHILIPSBURG--The Joint Court of Justice on Wednesday sentenced one suspect to life imprisonment and two other suspects to lengthy prison sentences. They were found guilty of a number of contract killings and several attempts in St. Maarten between 2018 and 2019.
In October 2020, Shaville Azeem Tarez Parris was sentenced by the Court of First Instance to life imprisonment for his involvement in four contract killings and for gun possession. He was also found guilty of attempting to murder some five other persons. On Wednesday, the Court of Appeals upheld Parris’ conviction.
Parris and his colleague in their murder team, Rochon Jamal Keilon Ramsahai, were both found guilty of committing an assassination attempt on several persons outside Stephanie Mini Marché on Middle Region Road, on October 28, 2019, in the so-called “Scorpio” investigation.
In broad daylight, a group of people standing in front of the minimarket were fired upon. A random bystander, Ishmael Sherwin Brumant, was killed.
Co-defendant T.T.T. Bass was also fatally injured in this brutal attack because he was accidentally shot in the back two times by Ramsahai. Two other persons who were shot at sustained injuries, while a third person remained unharmed.
The Court of Appeals also upheld the convictions of Parris and Ramsahai in the attempted murder in the parking lot of Cost Pro supermarket in Madame Estate, on January 5, 2020.
In the attempt, gunshots were fired from several weapons, which were aimed at criminal E.W.D.L. and his wife, who were sitting in a car in the parking lot.
“With regard to these suspects, the Court considered that they had formed a close-knit team of ruthless killers who dealt pitilessly with their victims,” the Court of Appeals said.
For his crimes, Ramsahai was sentenced to 30 years, which was equal to the sentence meted out by the Court of First Instance on July 6, 2021, and equal to the Prosecutor’s Office’s demand during the appeal hearing on October 3, 2022.
In imposing a life sentence, the Appeals Court considered that society “must be permanently protected” against Parris.
In addition to the assassinations and the attempts already mentioned, Parris murdered Jonathan Williams in Simpson Bay on October 5, 2018. The Court said that Williams was shot through the head in “cold blood” after he stepped into his car after a visit to Soggy Dollar Bar together with his girlfriend.
Suspect Akebo Zambo Williams was also found guilty of involvement in this assassination. According to the Court, Williams drove shooter Parris to the scene of the crime and blocked non-related Jonathan Williams’ vehicle with his car, thus creating an opportunity for Parris to murder him.
Akebo Williams was also found guilty of attempted manslaughter committed in a parking lot on April 22, 2017, and of involvement in the armed robbery of Milano Diamond Gallery jewellery store at Cyrus Wathey Square in which US $227,504 worth of jewellery was stolen by four men, on June 29, 2015.
He was also suspected of involvement in the armed robbery of Princess Port de Plaisance Casino. On July 7, 2017, four masked men stormed into the establishment around 2:00am, robbing it at gunpoint. One man was shot trying to foil the robbery. The robbers made off with approximately $3,000. The Joint Court acquitted Williams of this fact for lack of evidence.
In imposing a prison term of 19 years and 10 months, the Court of Appeals considered that Williams was not a ruthless killer like the other suspects, and that he has shown some insight into the wrongs of his actions.
The court also arrived at a lower sentence because Williams had spent two months in detention in the police cells, whereas a person may only be detained at the police station for up to 10 days.
Parris and Williams are currently detained in the Netherlands. They heard the Court of Appeals read the verdicts in the Court in Willemstad via videoconferencing. Ramsahai is detained in Pointe Blanche Prison, but he was not present to hear the verdict in his case.
The three suspects and the Prosecutor’s Office have 14 days to launch a final “cassation” appeal in the Supreme Court in The Hague.