Case Caption: Michael Davis v. People of the Virgin IslandsCase Number: S. Ct. Crim. No. 2015-0121Date: 07/27/2018Author: Cabret, Maria M. Citation: Summary: In an appeal from three convictions in a prosecution arising out of a shooting, this defendant’s convictions for third-degree assault and unauthorized possession of a firearm during a crime of violence are affirmed, but his conviction for first-degree reckless endangerment is reversed. The argument that an acquittal and new trial were warranted by prosecutorial misconduct – involving the People’s characterization of the victim’s testimony during an objection – is rejected; the comment cannot was not an improper characterization of the testimony, which itself had then been admitted without objection, thus it was not error to deny a motion for mistrial. Nor was there reversible error in the jury instructions on the crime of third-degree assault under 14 V.I.C. § 297, which states the substantive elements of that offense and directs that a defendant be sentenced within a particular range if, and only if he has committed an assault of the type specified in subsections (1)-(4), which does not rise to the level of first or second degree assault, which would instead require that the defendant be sentenced under § 295 or § 296. Thus § 297 does not establish an additional substantive element of the offense, but rather contains a condition precedent to application of the sentencing range prescribed in § 297. The Superior Court did not err—let alone plainly err—in its instruction to the jury on third-degree assault. The defendant was entitled to an instruction on issues of self-defense under title 14 V.I.C. §§ 41, 43, and 293(a)(6) only if the record contained evidence sufficient for a reasonable jury to find these defenses, and in this case the evidence failed to support any of these defenses. In order to obtain a conviction for first-degree reckless endangerment, the People must prove that the defendant (1) recklessly engaged in conduct (2) in a public place that (3) created a grave risk of death to another person (4) under circumstances evidencing a depraved indifference to human life, as provided in 14 V.I.C. § 625. The evidence in this case was that the shooting occurred near a tree, which appears to be located on privately owned property on or adjacent to a privately owned dirt road, and the people failed to demonstrate that the area of the shooting was used by the public in general rather than only the residences next to the area. Therefore, there was insufficient evidence to uphold the conviction for reckless endangerment. The Superior Court’s December 8, 2015 judgment is affirmed in part, and reversed in part.Attachment: Open Document or Opinion