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Defendants Found Guilty in 2004 Slaying of VIPD Officer

Feb. 6, 2007 — Police officers in a jam-packed St. Croix courtroom erupted into spirited applause as a District Court jury on Tuesday handed down guilty verdicts on first-degree murder and related charges against four men charged in the 2004 slaying of Police Officer Cuthbert Chapman at a Wendy's restaurant in Sunny Isles Shopping Center.
The defendants — Reinaldo "Rey" Berrios Jr., 21; Troy "C Murder" Moore, 25; Felix "Bugsy" Cruz, 26; and Angel "Malungo" Rodriguez, 22 — remained stoic as the verdict was read, according to Robert King, Rodriguez's court-appointed attorney.
Tuesday's verdict was read at about 12:30 p.m. — roughly 45 minutes after the 12-woman, two-man jury alerted Chief District Judge Raymond Finch that it had reached a unanimous verdict. Jurors deliberated a day and a half before reaching their decision.
After initially receiving the case late Friday afternoon, the jury resumed deliberations on Monday, but the day ended without a verdict. They returned Tuesday and began deliberations about 9:30 a.m.
The four defendants were found guilty of 11 counts, including first-degree murder, which carries an automatic life sentence, and first-degree robbery.
They were also found guilty of federal charges: two counts of carjacking; one count of attempted car jacking; four counts of interference with commerce by threats of violence in the carjackings and the Wendy's robbery; carrying a firearm during a violent crime; and causing the death of a person by using a firearm.
Prior to Tuesday's verdict, the four had sat through four weeks of testimony against them in connection with the April 17, 2004, shooting of Chapman at the Sunny Isle fast-food restaurant.
According to court documents, Chapman was off duty, doing security work at the restaurant, when he was shot three times.
During the trial, prosecutors reconstructed the robbery, contending that Berrios jumped over the restaurant's counter demanding money and that Chapman then pointed his service weapon at Berrios and ordered him to freeze.
According to the prosecution's opening statements, Moore and Cruz entered through a side door carrying semiautomatic weapons and fired from behind at Chapman, who was unaware of their presence. They say Berrios also shot at Chapman, while Rodriquez remained in a vehicle outside and served as the getaway driver. No money was taken from the restaurant.
Chapman died nine days later in Puerto Rico, where he had been flown for further medical care.
According to testimony during the trial, the four men fled the scene in a Chevrolet Cavalier, the first of two cars they stole. Police later found the vehicle abandoned in the Clifton Hill area, where it apparently crashed. In Clifton Hill, they allegedly attempted to carjack another vehicle, but the car's owner testified that she tossed her keys as the men approached.
The four then carjacked another vehicle just outside Central High School, according to testimony. That car, a Toyota Echo, was discovered days later in Fredensborg.
During testimony, jurors heard a taped conversation between Moore and Berrios, which according to prosecutors, concerned the robbery. During the conversation the two allegedly bragged about Cuthbert's shooting.
An expert witness for the prosecution said fibers in the Echo matched fibers from a jacket taken from a Frederiksted home where Cruz lived, while a fingerprint collected from a license plate on the Cavalier matched Rodriguez's prints.
Witnesses placed the four men together the night of Chapman's shooting. A female witness, placed in protective custody, testified that Rodriguez admitted to playing a role in the night's events that led to Chapman's shooting.
During the monthlong trial, prosecutors called the carjacking victims, police officers, FBI forensic experts, DNA experts and relatives of the defendants to the witness stand.
The defense, which largely contended throughout the trial that the government's case was all circumstantial, did not call any witnesses. They asked jurors to return not-guilty verdicts.
Following the verdict, both King and Clive Rivers, Moore's court-appointed attorney, said that the "jury had spoken."
"I am not one to second-guess the jury," Rivers said, "but because this is the severest of charges, it's naturally going to be appealed." However, Rivers said he did not know whether he would still be on the case.
King also did not question the jury's decision. "The jury took its time, and they deliberated," he said. "Their findings, (are) their findings."
Acting Police Commissioner James McCall and Territorial Police Chief Novelle E. Francis Jr. said they were satisfied with the guilty verdicts, noting that VIPD officers had regularly attended the proceedings as a sign of solidarity for their fallen officer.
“The jury recognized that the callous and wanton disregard for life that we see perpetuated throughout our community will not be tolerated,” McCall said in a released statement. “Violent crimes against police officers affect the entire community."
McCall thanked the witnesses who came forward with information critical to identifying the suspects. He also commended the prosecutors, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Charles Duross and Harry Wallace; FBI Special Agent Clifford Goodman; and VIPD Detective Richard Matthews for their dedicated efforts in seeking justice.
Francis said the verdict brought mixed feelings. “Today is a bittersweet day for the Police Department. No verdict can bring back our brother, Officer Cuthbert Chapman, but on the other hand, we have lost four young men to a lifetime of incarceration. We have won this battle but still fight one of loss,” he said.
Judge Finch did not set a date for sentencing. Rivers said it could take about two months because Finch had ordered pre-sentencing reports on the men.
Attorney George Hodge, of St. Thomas, represented Cruz; while attorney Warren Cole represented Berrios.
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Feb. 6, 2007 -- Police officers in a jam-packed St. Croix courtroom erupted into spirited applause as a District Court jury on Tuesday handed down guilty verdicts on first-degree murder and related charges against four men charged in the 2004 slaying of Police Officer Cuthbert Chapman at a Wendy's restaurant in Sunny Isles Shopping Center.
The defendants -- Reinaldo "Rey" Berrios Jr., 21; Troy "C Murder" Moore, 25; Felix "Bugsy" Cruz, 26; and Angel "Malungo" Rodriguez, 22 -- remained stoic as the verdict was read, according to Robert King, Rodriguez's court-appointed attorney.
Tuesday's verdict was read at about 12:30 p.m. -- roughly 45 minutes after the 12-woman, two-man jury alerted Chief District Judge Raymond Finch that it had reached a unanimous verdict. Jurors deliberated a day and a half before reaching their decision.
After initially receiving the case late Friday afternoon, the jury resumed deliberations on Monday, but the day ended without a verdict. They returned Tuesday and began deliberations about 9:30 a.m.
The four defendants were found guilty of 11 counts, including first-degree murder, which carries an automatic life sentence, and first-degree robbery.
They were also found guilty of federal charges: two counts of carjacking; one count of attempted car jacking; four counts of interference with commerce by threats of violence in the carjackings and the Wendy's robbery; carrying a firearm during a violent crime; and causing the death of a person by using a firearm.
Prior to Tuesday's verdict, the four had sat through four weeks of testimony against them in connection with the April 17, 2004, shooting of Chapman at the Sunny Isle fast-food restaurant.
According to court documents, Chapman was off duty, doing security work at the restaurant, when he was shot three times.
During the trial, prosecutors reconstructed the robbery, contending that Berrios jumped over the restaurant's counter demanding money and that Chapman then pointed his service weapon at Berrios and ordered him to freeze.
According to the prosecution's opening statements, Moore and Cruz entered through a side door carrying semiautomatic weapons and fired from behind at Chapman, who was unaware of their presence. They say Berrios also shot at Chapman, while Rodriquez remained in a vehicle outside and served as the getaway driver. No money was taken from the restaurant.
Chapman died nine days later in Puerto Rico, where he had been flown for further medical care.
According to testimony during the trial, the four men fled the scene in a Chevrolet Cavalier, the first of two cars they stole. Police later found the vehicle abandoned in the Clifton Hill area, where it apparently crashed. In Clifton Hill, they allegedly attempted to carjack another vehicle, but the car's owner testified that she tossed her keys as the men approached.
The four then carjacked another vehicle just outside Central High School, according to testimony. That car, a Toyota Echo, was discovered days later in Fredensborg.
During testimony, jurors heard a taped conversation between Moore and Berrios, which according to prosecutors, concerned the robbery. During the conversation the two allegedly bragged about Cuthbert's shooting.
An expert witness for the prosecution said fibers in the Echo matched fibers from a jacket taken from a Frederiksted home where Cruz lived, while a fingerprint collected from a license plate on the Cavalier matched Rodriguez's prints.
Witnesses placed the four men together the night of Chapman's shooting. A female witness, placed in protective custody, testified that Rodriguez admitted to playing a role in the night's events that led to Chapman's shooting.
During the monthlong trial, prosecutors called the carjacking victims, police officers, FBI forensic experts, DNA experts and relatives of the defendants to the witness stand.
The defense, which largely contended throughout the trial that the government's case was all circumstantial, did not call any witnesses. They asked jurors to return not-guilty verdicts.
Following the verdict, both King and Clive Rivers, Moore's court-appointed attorney, said that the "jury had spoken."
"I am not one to second-guess the jury," Rivers said, "but because this is the severest of charges, it's naturally going to be appealed." However, Rivers said he did not know whether he would still be on the case.
King also did not question the jury's decision. "The jury took its time, and they deliberated," he said. "Their findings, (are) their findings."
Acting Police Commissioner James McCall and Territorial Police Chief Novelle E. Francis Jr. said they were satisfied with the guilty verdicts, noting that VIPD officers had regularly attended the proceedings as a sign of solidarity for their fallen officer.
“The jury recognized that the callous and wanton disregard for life that we see perpetuated throughout our community will not be tolerated,” McCall said in a released statement. “Violent crimes against police officers affect the entire community."
McCall thanked the witnesses who came forward with information critical to identifying the suspects. He also commended the prosecutors, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Charles Duross and Harry Wallace; FBI Special Agent Clifford Goodman; and VIPD Detective Richard Matthews for their dedicated efforts in seeking justice.
Francis said the verdict brought mixed feelings. “Today is a bittersweet day for the Police Department. No verdict can bring back our brother, Officer Cuthbert Chapman, but on the other hand, we have lost four young men to a lifetime of incarceration. We have won this battle but still fight one of loss,” he said.
Judge Finch did not set a date for sentencing. Rivers said it could take about two months because Finch had ordered pre-sentencing reports on the men.
Attorney George Hodge, of St. Thomas, represented Cruz; while attorney Warren Cole represented Berrios.
Back Talk


Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.