Two men sentenced to 18 years for failed assassination attempts

PHILIPSBURG--Two men were sentenced to eighteen years for the failed attempt to shoot and kill two men who were sitting in a car outside L’Esperance Hotel in Cay Hill on November 18, 2018.
 
Suspects Craig Macather Halliday (36) and Akeem Alexis Chumney (28) were found guilty of two attempted murders and of possession of illegal firearms. Halliday was also convicted of possession of four false 500-euro bills that were found when he was arrested.
 
The suspects had tried to take two lives “in a crude manner” by firing shots at two persons from close range. Not only had they fired shots at the man they wanted to kill, but also at the driver of the vehicle, the judge stated in the verdict, which was handed down on Thursday.
 
The Prosecutor stated during the June 12 court hearing that St. Maarten had been rattled by five shootings in the last three months of 2018. According to a witness of the shooting, a blue car was backing out of the hotel parking lot when two men on foot started shooting towards the vehicle. The car managed to drive away, while the men who did the shooting were able to escape towards Kooyman hardware store. Police started investigating and learned that eight shots had been fired during the incident.
 
Halliday was arrested as a suspect in the so-called Taxi investigation after a search at his sister’s house on November 22, 2018, and co-defendant Chumney was taken in on December 10, 2018.
 
Both denied any involvement in the shooting, which, according to the Prosecutor’s Office was a failed attempt to take the life of a criminal identified as “J.E. Flanders” and that of the vehicle’s driver.
 
Following the Prosecutor’s Office, the judge said there was sufficient evidence to hold both defendants as the shooters. Both men had been wearing clothing similar to the outfits worn by the two shooters seen on the hotel’s video-surveillance-camera images of the shooting.
 
Investigations of the two defendants’ phones indicated that both had been in the Cay Hill area around the time of the shooting, which had taken place in broad daylight around 4:00pm.
 
Video images of the shooting were also shown to members of the St. Kitts Police Force who, according to the police in St. Maarten, had stated that they recognised the two defendants, who are nationals of St. Kitts.
 
Investigations by Dutch Forensic Institute NFI revealed that the weapon found in Chumney’s possession had been used in the shooting. Halliday’s weapon was also investigated, but there were no indications that it also had been used.
 
Attorney-at-law Shaira Bommel had pleaded for her clients’ acquittal of the murder/manslaughter charges, as the evidence presented by the Prosecutor was “incorrect and inaccurate,” which in the lawyer’s eyes left too much room for doubt.

Signing legal status of police declared invalid

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