Case Caption: Denalson W. Merrifield v. People of the Virgin IslandsCase Number: S. Ct. Crim. No. 2011-0034Date: 06/15/2012Author: Swan, Ive Arlington Citation: Summary:

In considering an appeal of the defendant's convictions for aiding and abetting first degree murder under 14 V.I.C. §§ 921, 922(a)(1) and 14 V.I.C.§ 11(a), first degree assault under 14 V.I.C. § 295(1) and 14 V.I.C. § 11(a), as well as unauthorized possession of a firearm during a crime of violence under 14 V.I.C.§ 2253(a) and 14 V.I.C. § 11(a), there is no evidence linking defendant to the scene at the time that the victim arrived at her residence early in the morning of her death, and there is also no evidence that the defendant aided, abetted, counseled, commanded, induced or procured her murder as required to support a conviction under 14 V.I.C. §11. While it could be speculated that the defendant acted in concert with his co-defendant, the alleged shooter, to murder the victim, detailed study of the record on appeal reveals that such evidence was not presented to the jury. Consequently, there was no evidentiary basis for a finding of this defendant's guilt of the crimes charged beyond a reasonable doubt. Because the evidence was sparse and insufficient for a reasonable jury to return a verdict of guilty against this defendant for the crimes relating to the murder of the victim, the trial court erred in denying defendant's Rule 29 motion for judgment of acquittal. The trial court's June 28, 2011 Judgment and Commitment is vacated, defendant's convictions on all charges are reversed, and the trial court is directed to enter a judgment of acquittal on all charges.

Attachment: Open Document or Opinion