Case Caption: Akeam K. Davis v. People of the Virgin IslandsCase Number: S. Ct. Crim. No. 2015-0124Date: 07/27/2018Author: Cabret, Maria M. Citation: Summary: In a prosecution arising out of a shooting, on a charge of aiding and abetting third-degree assault, 14 V.I.C. §§ 11(a) & 297(4), the People were required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the substantive crime was committed and that the defendant knew of the crime and attempted to facilitate it, with the specific intent to facilitate it. Evidence that he drove the perpetrator to the victim’s location and stood by the vehicle holding a weapon visible to the victim while the shooter approached and eventually shot the victim, was sufficient for a reasonable juror to infer that this defendant intended to facilitate the assault by standing guard and preventing the victim from escaping, aiding and abetting the shooter’s third-degree assault. The charge of aiding and abetting the unauthorized use of a firearm during the commission of a crime of violence, 14 V.I.C. §§ 11(a) & 2254(a), required proof linking the alleged aider and abettor to the firearm. Because a reasonable jury could have inferred from the evidence that this defendant knew the shooter possessed a firearm before driving him to the victim’s location, there was sufficient evidence to link this defendant to the firearm that shot the victim. A claim of error in the wording of the jury instruction on aiding and abetting possession of a firearm is without merit, reading the instructions as a whole. A conviction for aiding and abetting reckless endangerment in the first degree, 14 V.I.C. §§ 11(a) & 625(a), requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant had the specific intent to facilitate the underlying crime, but a jury can infer intent to aid and abet when a defendant transports a principal to the crime scene with knowledge that he has a weapon and plans to use it. However, the crime of aiding and abetting requires proof that the underlying, substantive crime has been committed. Because it is held in the appeal of co-defendant Michael Davis, S. Ct. Crim. No. 2015-0121, that the People failed to introduce sufficient evidence to establish that Michael discharged his weapon in a public place, the interests of justice compel reversal of the present defendant’s conviction on the reckless endangerment charge because proof of an essential element—the commission of the underlying offense—is absent. This defendant’s claim that the Superior Court abused its discretion in denying his motion for a mistrial on all charges is rejected; although he was entitled to production of a police report, the Superior Court’s instruction cured any prejudice he may have suffered. The Superior Court’s December 8, 2015 judgment is affirmed in part and reversed in part.Attachment: Open Document or Opinion