Case Caption: Rudette Christopher v. People of the Virgin IslandsCase Number: S. Ct. Crim. No. 2010-0037Date: 09/28/2012Author: Cabret, Maria M. Citation: Summary:

No reversible error is found upon review of a prosecution and guilty verdict on charges of third degree assault and unauthorized possession or use of a firearm in a crime of violence. The trial court did not err by sustaining objections to questions concerning the victim's alleged violent past. Under then-applicable provisions of 5 V.I.C. §§ 886 and 887, the Superior Court correctly excluded testimony concerning a witness's prior bad acts until the testimony was offered to show the reasonableness of the defendant's fear of imminent bodily injury for his claim of self-defense. Additionally, the Superior Court did not commit plain error by adding a single word, "dangerous," to the jury instruction dealing with the deadly weapon element of the assault in the third degree charge, since the definitions are similar and the interchangeable use of the phrases "dangerous weapon" and "deadly weapon" does not confuse or mislead jurors. Finally, the People presented sufficient evidence to overcome defendant's self-defense claim and to support his conviction for assault in the third degree and possession of a dangerous weapon during a crime of violence. A rational jury could have accepted the testimony of either of two witnesses, finding that the right to self-defense never arose because the victim did not first assault defendant. Moreover, the jury had sufficient evidence to determine that by stabbing the victim the defendant used more force than was necessary to defend himself against being pushed. The trial court's June 15, 2010 Judgment and Commitment is affirmed.

Attachment: Open Document or Opinion