Police officers escorting murder suspect R.I.L.V. out of the courthouse on Thursday afternoon, October 22.
DUTCH QUARTER--The prosecutor demanded twenty years imprisonment against a 29-year-old suspect accused of having gunned down and killed Carnicio D.S. Warno at close range on “The Block” at Nick Spring Drive in Dutch Quarter at 12:44am on October 12, 2019.
Warno was a known criminal, who on February 27, 2014, was sentenced to eight years for the attempted murder of Devon Otto, who was a fellow inmate at Pointe Blanche prison at the time. Warno committed the crime together with another inmate while he was sitting out a 10-year sentence for armed robbery.
Thursday afternoon’s hearing in the “Almond” investigation started with the showing of a compilation of video-surveillance camera footage taken inside and outside a bar, which is located opposite the scene of the crime.
The video footage showed suspect R.I.L.V. sitting in the bar with a firearm in his waistband, hidden from view by his shirt. Less than a minute after the victim left the bar a gunshot was fired from the bushes opposite the bar near where the victim’s car was parked.
V., who is a Dutch Quarter resident, denied he was the shooter, claiming that he was not around when the shooting happened. He was arrested on October 18, 2020. A firearm was found in his bedroom during a search, but ballistic investigations revealed that the victim was not killed by ammunition fired by that that weapon.
“I was just having fun that night,” V. told the judge in explaining his presence at the bar. He denied he had been in a feud with Warno about the fact that he had been in a relationship with his ex-girlfriend. “People say we had an argument one week before. I did not know if my ex-girlfriend had something with him, so why would I be jealous? I was not raised like that,” he stated in court.
Police investigations revealed that the victim was shot in the head from behind. Two witnesses, – the bar owner and his girlfriend –, who were at the scene of the crime said they saw V. almost at the same time when the shots were fired, but according to V., this was a case of mistaken identity.
The bar owner and his girlfriend were having a conversation on a bench on “The Block” in close proximity to the location where the gunshot was fired. Both saw V. at the crime scene but neither of them actually witnessed V. firing a gun.
One of the witnesses heard V. asking Warno for a lighter. While Warno walked to his car a gunshot rang out and he collapsed. Both witnesses stated that V. then walked away in the direction of a container at the end of the road.
The prosecutor considered murder proven, as the camera footage seemed to indicate that V. had acted according to a deliberate plan and had not fired a shot in anger or during an argument. Possession of an illegal firearm was also considered proven. The prosecutor described these crimes as “cold and unscrupulous” acts, in which the suspect had put a “brutal end” to Warno’s life. “This can only be punished with a long prison sentence,” the prosecutor said.
Attorney-at-law Geert Hatzmann totally disagreed with the evidence as provided by the Prosecutor’s Office and stated that only possession of an illegal firearm could be proven, adding that his client’s weapon was not used to take the victim’s life. The lawyer added that it was “remarkable” that the murder weapon was not found.
Hatzmann stated that the motive of jealousy, as provided by the Prosecutor’s Office, was “incredible” because his client and the alleged subject of his jealousy had not been in a serious relationship but only had a short-lived fling. The romantic escapade had not caused an obsession with his client and had not led to arguments or stalking, the lawyer said.
According to Hatzmann, Warno may very well have been the victim of a criminal “reckoning,” as images of drugs and money found on his phone were indications that he had been involved in so-called “rip deals.”
The lawyer also questioned the reliability of witness statements. Hatzmann claimed that the barman was drunk and high on “molly”, or ecstasy pills, and pointed out that none of the witnesses had actually seen the shooter.
“Both witnesses have not seen the vital moment and are blatantly contradictory,” the lawyer said in labelling the statements as unreliable.
Because these statements should not be used and because there is no forensic evidence against V., his pre-trial detention should be lifted or suspended, the lawyer pleaded. However, the judge did not make an immediate decision on this request and will give his verdict November 4.