$4000, death threats and an automatic pistol

A 23-year old man appeared before the Saint-Martin Court for having shot at one of his friends twice.

He could have been sentenced with up to thirty years in prison. In the end, he got four years including a thirty-month suspended sentence with two years of probation. RD, aged 23, was judged by the Saint-Martin criminal court and not by the Guadeloupe Court of Assizes because the charges were reclassified.

RD was arrested and then charged by the investigating for attempted murder. But, as is often the case in the jurisdiction, the court of assizes is overloaded with homicide cases and other affairs in which people are killed and therefore his case was revised and the charges were reclassified into armed violence* in order to be examined directly in Saint-Martin.

RD therefore appeared before the judge in Marigot on Thursday morning. He pleaded guilty. An incident that can be considered as typical in Saint-Martin: RD was afraid, he knew that he and his family’s lives were in danger, so he got a weapon. And when the time came when he could or had to use it, he did just that.


The incident occurred on rue des Ecoles in Grand Case two years ago. RD’s little brother supposedly racketeered the little brother of his best friend, who is the victim. "His little brother saw that my little-brother had $1000, so he tortured him so that he would give him more money," explained the defendant to the judges. In the end, $4000 were taken by the victim’s little brother and given to the defendant’s little brother. The judge asked him where the money came from and especially about the circumstances in which the little brother - who’s only 10 years old- was able to find this cash. "It was money that my mother was saving… the money came from the CAF (Family Allowance Fund)... He found the money by searching around the house", replied the victim unconvincingly. The authorities tend more to believe that this money could come from drug dealing.


Be it as it may, this money disappeared and the victim wanted it back; the matter was now between the two older brothers. According to elements from the investigation, the victim went to RD’s family’s home twice to give death threats to his family if they did not give back the money. To defend them, RD purchased a weapon "on the seashore for 1000 dollars". The weapon was a Glock automatic pistol according to ballistics, a very common weapon on the island.

Then, one day, on May 26, RD saw his friend talking with his mother and the exchange didn’t seem friendly. RD went over to them. The tone was tense. RD saw his friend put his hand on his belt. He immediately reacted and drew his gun. His friend was shot in the thigh and in the thorax and was seriously wounded. His survival was compromised. He was placed in an artificial coma and evacuated to Guadeloupe. He was put on complete disability for six months.


Nevertheless, he didn’t behave like a victim during the investigation. The young man, in his 20s, didn’t appear before the investigating judge for questioning and to give his version of what happened when he was summoned. He didn’t file a civil suit, either. An attitude that the defense didn’t fail to point out. As well as the "climate of fear" that he created in RD’s family.

However, RD’s gesture was not interpreted as self-defence by the prosecution. "The victim was not armed", pointed out Michaël Ohayon, for whom all the characteristics of a homicide are present in this case. He therefore requested five years of prison, including a one-year suspended sentence and five years of probation. He also requested a detention warrant.

After deliberation, the Court sentenced him to four years in prison, including a 30-month suspended sentence with two years of probation with the obligation to compensate the victim (adjournment on civil interest) and the prohibition to carry a weapon. Since RD has already completed a year of provisional detention, his sentence should be quickly adjusted and therefore he probably won’t stay a long time in prison.


* As is also the case of robberies that should be referred to the court of assizes but which are always reclassified into violent and armed thefts.


Estelle Gasnet