Lawyer’s requests rejected in toddler strangulation case

PHILIPSBURG--The Joint Court of Justice on Tuesday rejected requests for additional forensic investigations and for the hearing of witnesses in the appeal of Nikerson Boireau.
 
 The 29-year-old of Haitian descent was sentenced in June 2015 to twelve years for having strangled a two-year-old child who was entrusted to his care on August 27, 2014.
 
  Following the Prosecutor’s demand the Court found it proven that Boireau had been responsible for the child’s death. The Prosecutor’s Office had recommended a 12-year sentence.
 
  The defendant maintains his innocence. He took the lifeless body of the child to the Emergency Room at St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) that August day almost two years ago.
 
  According to medical doctors, the child was already dead when it was brought in and reanimation proved futile. The child’s heart had stopped, it had ceased breathing and its pupils were no longer responding.
 
  Paediatrician Dr. Pieter Offringa deemed the circumstances under which the child was brought into hospital suspicious, which led him to file a report with the Prosecutor’s Office.
 
  The child’s mother, who had been in a relationship with the defendant since May 2014, said she had left her child with the defendant as there had been no health issue, while she had gone to work. Only a few hours later, Boireau took the child to hospital from his home in Cole Bay as the toddler, according to him, was suffering from convulsions.
 
  Experts at the Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI) arrived at the conclusion that the child was killed by “manual strangulation.” Several bruises were found in the soft tissue surrounding the child’s left neck artery. These conclusions were supported by the Department of Forensic Medicine of Leuven University in Belgium.
 
  During an appeal hearing held on April 6, the defendant’s lawyer Jairo Bloem called for new forensic investigations by an expert to be appointed by the Court and to be paid for by Country St. Maarten.
 
  These investigations should include a review of the reports drafted by NFI and the University of Leuven’s Department of Forensic Medicine, as well as a forensic medical quick-scan of Independent Forensic Services (IFS).
 
  According to the defence, the results of the various investigations did not match. Besides, there would have been indications of previous mistreatment of the victim, which may have contributed to, or may have caused death.
 
  In Tuesday’s interim-decision, the Appeals Court turned down the request, which the Court had also rejected during a previous hearing. The Court said it disagreed with the position of the defence and stated that the various investigations were “unanimous in their most important conclusions.”
 
  Where the possibility of delayed encephalopathy after carbon-monoxide intoxication was concerned, the Appeals Court said that the findings of IFS to this effect were insufficiently concrete to warrant additional investigations at Country St. Maarten’s expense.
 
  The requests to hear the suspect’s parents and sister as witnesses in this case were also turned down. The Court said these witnesses were not present at the child’s passing and could, therefore, not give any statement concerning the criminal charges. The appeal hearing in this case has been scheduled for June 9.
 
The Daily Herald
 

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