Case Caption: Jevern Phillip v. People of the Virgin IslandsCase Number: S. Ct. Crim. No. 2012-0086Date: 06/26/2013Author: Hodge, Rhys S. Citation: Summary:

In a prosecution and conviction of the defendant of a number of crimes, including assault, reckless endangerment, various firearms offenses, and first-degree murder, leading to a sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, challenges to the sufficiency of the evidence, and allegations of errors made at trial, are rejected. While there was no direct evidence identifying this defendant at the scene of the shooting, there was other evidence from which the jury could infer that he participated in it, and acted with the requisite intent and premeditation. The Legislature requires all persons who wish to possess firearms to be authorized to do so, whether by virtue of their position or occupation, or because they have obtained a license. Because defendant does not fall into either category, the trial court did not commit any error in the firearms instructions. The reckless endangerment information charged unlawful conduct “in a public place,” and the trial court properly so instructed the jury, which had sufficient evidence on which to conclude that the shooting happened in a public place. Defendant could be guilty of first-degree assault regardless of whether he missed or actually succeeded in killing the target of his assault. Although the reckless endangerment conviction was based on the same act as the first-degree murder conviction -the shooting of a firearm at the vehicle in a public place-defendant's sentences for convictions of the two offenses may nonetheless be sustained under the “multiple victim” exception applicable under 14 V.I.C. § 104 where there is an act of violence that harms or risks harming more than one person. Reckless endangerment in the first degree necessarily requires an act that “creates a risk of death to another person” under 14 V.I.C. § 625 and is an act of violence for these purposes. When defendant fired at the vehicle he committed a single act of violence that harmed or risked harming more than one person, as one of the bullets fired by him and his companions killed one victim, and the act of firing created a risk of death to others in the vehicle or to anyone who might have been in the area, thus the multiple-victim exception permits affirmance of the sentences for both first-degree murder and first-degree reckless endangerment. No conflict is found between 14 V.I.C. § 2253 and § 104, and no violation of the Revised Organic Act provisions on multiple punishments. Section 2253 provides that the “penalties provided for violation of this section shall be in addition to the penalty provided for the commission, or attempt to commit, the crime of violence.” The trial court did not abuse its discretion in admitting a camcorder video recording at trial. There is sufficient evidence to sustain the convictions and irrationality will not be inferred from the mere fact of inconsistent verdicts, thus the first-degree murder conviction will not be set aside on this ground. There is no showing of bad faith by the prosecution in the initial dismissal of the prior case, and the subsequent refusal to dismiss the new case was not contrary to the public interest or to the interest of justice. For these reasons, the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it refused to dismiss the Information re-filed against the defendants.

Attachment: Open Document or Opinion