Case Caption: Jim Wallace v. People of the Virgin IslandsCase Number: S. Ct. Crim. No. 2015-0073Date: 06/28/2019Author: Cabret, Maria M. Citation: 2019 VI 24Summary: In a prosecution arising from the defendant’s act of shooting into an occupied vehicle, the jury was instructed on each and every essential element of third-degree assault, and there was nothing misleading or inadequate in the instructions that would support a finding of plain error. Nor did the Superior Court abuse its discretion in denying the defendant’s motion for a new trial, since the affidavit submitted as newly-discovered evidence was not inconsistent with evidence received at trial. Thus, convictions for third-degree assault and unauthorized possession of a firearm during commission of a crime of violence are affirmed. However, the Superior Court erred in instructing the jury on the elements of first-degree reckless endangerment. To be depravedly indifferent within the meaning of 14 V.I.C. § 625(a), a person must act with an utter disregard for the value of human life, not because he or she intends harm, but because the person simply doesn’t care whether grievous harm results or not. The overbroad notion that the act of firing a loaded gun at or near someone is always, by definition, reckless conduct creating a grave risk of death under circumstances evincing an extreme indifference to human life is rejected – the People are required to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the shooting was the product of a conscious disregard for a grave risk of death. The instruction on the “public place” element of reckless endangerment impermissibly removed the People’s burden of proving, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the residential street in question fell within the definition of “public place” set forth in § 625. Accordingly, the conviction for reckless endangerment in the first degree is reversed, and the case is remanded for a new trial on that count if the People are disposed to pursue that charge.Attachment: Open Document or Opinion