Sixteen years requested for main suspect in robbery-homicide of Canadian tourist

PHILIPSBURG--The Prosecutor’s Office demanded a prison sentence of sixteen years for main suspect G.M.S. (19) in the robbery-homicide of Canadian tourist Sylvain Valade on Beacon Hill Road near Maho on June 5, 2019.
 
His co-defendant K.H.S.R. is facing six years and J.S.E. (17) two years, one of which to be suspended, on two years’ probation, with guidance by the Court of Guardianship. The judge will give his decisions in all three cases on March 18, he announced Wednesday.
 
  During yesterday’s hearing the three suspects answered to charges of murder and manslaughter, armed robbery that led to the victim’s death, and illegal firearm possession.
 
  Suspects S. and R. are currently held in pre-trial detention in the Pointe Blanche prison, whereas E.’s detention was suspended during a preliminary hearing on December 11, 2019. The underage suspect was detained at Miss Lalie Youth Care and Rehabilitation Centre and had attempted suicide after he was arrested.
 
  The Prosecutor’s Office is holding S. as the man who shot and killed the father and robbed his 19-year-old daughter of her bag during the final day of their vacation in St. Maarten.
 
  According to the Prosecution, R. provided the gun and the getaway car, while E. contributed to the crime by driving the car from French Quarter to the Maho area and back.
 
  R., who was wearing a surveillance ankle bracelet and was under curfew at the time, confessed that S. had borrowed the Kia Picanto from him. He also admitted that he had given a firearm to his long-time neighbourhood friend S.
 
  He claimed that he had had no knowledge of any ill intentions by S., who had said he needed the weapon for his protection. R. told the court that the gun had been returned to him the next day because S. could not pay for it, and R. said he had sold the weapon to another person later.
 
  S. and E. both denied that they were the shooters and both claimed that they had been the driver of the vehicle. The lawyers of the three suspects denied that their clients were co-perpetrators or accomplices in the shooting.
 
 
 
“Friendly island”
 
  The prosecutor, who said that the shooting had seriously damaged the image of “The Friendly Island” and of one of St. Maarten’s most popular beaches, held S. for the man who had shot Valade and E. for the driver.
 
  She did not consider attempted murder or manslaughter proven and said the crime should be classified as a case of theft with violence which had led to the victim’s death, for which the Prosecutor held all three defendants equally responsible.
 
  E., who confessed that he had known that S. had received a firearm, claimed that he had had no knowledge of any robbery and said they were to pick up S.’s T-Max maxi-scooter in Marigot.
 
  Where attorney-at-law Shaira Bommel pleaded for her client’s acquittal, the Prosecutor’s Office held E. for a co-perpetrator. The lawyer countered by saying that the prosecutor might not believe her client’s statement, but that his version of what had transpired in June last year was still a possibility.
 
  She dismissed the prosecutor’s opinion that the three suspects had committed the crime in conjunction as “mere speculation.” She maintained that her underage client, who is currently working as a resort cleaner and started a course in computer science, was innocent.
 
“Supporting acts”
 
  In the Prosecution’s opinion, providing a car and a firearm were more than “supporting acts” by defendant R. He had done time in Guadeloupe together with S. and knew “very well” that S. was capable of committing armed robbery, just like himself, the prosecutor stated.
 
  Attorney Sjamira Roseburg, who said that R. had voluntarily turned himself in at the Philipsburg police station, claimed that her client’s first two statements to the police should be excluded from the evidence, as he had given these statements without a lawyer present.
 
  She pleaded for her client’s acquittal as he had said “from the beginning” that he had not been involved or had had any knowledge of the shooting incident. “My client has nothing to hide and has not cooperated with the co-suspects,” she said.
 
  “The big question in this case is who the driver was and who stepped out of the car and fired the gunshots,” S.’s lawyer Safira Ibrahim said.
 
  Her client had received a gun from R. to protect himself against a person in “The Projects” and had put the weapon in the Kia’s glove compartment, said Ibrahim. Her client drove E. to Maho because he wanted to “check out” a girl there. According to the lawyer, not her client but E. had stepped out of the car near the beach.
 
  The victim’s daughter and some family members travelled from Canada to witness Wednesday’s court proceedings. The daughter filed for material damages, which should be awarded, the prosecutor recommended to the court.
 
The Daily Herald

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