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Kendall Sets House Arrest for Cockayne Suspect Pending $7,500 Bond Posting

Aug. 9, 2007 — Prosecuting attorneys in the case against accused murderer Kamal "Six-Pack" Thomas were dealt a blow Thursday, as V.I. Superior Court Judge Leon H. Kendall shot down a motion to detain Thomas pending trial.
Police arrested Thomas last Friday on charges of killing St. John resident James "Jamie" Cockayne near a Cruz Bay bar almost two months ago.
During a pre-trial detention hearing on St. Thomas, Kendall also did not accept the prosecution's $500,000 bail recommendation, calling the figure "too excessive." Instead Kendall set a bail of $75,000, but said Thomas only had to post 10 percent — or $7,500 — before he could be released.
Once bail is posted, Thomas will be released into the custody of his uncle, but will wear an electronic monitoring device and remain under house arrest, the judge added. Having already found the 18 year old to be a flight risk, Kendall said Thomas is currently not eligible to be released on his own recognizance or an unsecured bond.
Thomas is charged with first-degree murder and assault, along with using a dangerous weapon during the commission of a crime of violence and intimidating a witness.
Kendall further explained that prosecuting attorney Renee Gumbs Carty had "failed" during Thursday's hearing to present "convincing evidence" that Thomas had committed the murder. Reiterating statements made by defense attorney Harold Willocks, he added that witnesses interviewed after the incident had not actually seen Thomas kill Cockayne, who died as a result of multiple stab wounds to the body.
"This is a case of circumstantial evidence," Kendall said. "And the court cannot find that the government has proven … that the defendant committed the offense for which he has been charged. There has been no testimony indicating that anyone saw the defendant with a knife."
Since taking the bench in October 2003 without the endorsement of the V.I. Bar Association, Kendall has faced increased scrutiny from the public and his been accused of continuing to release convicted criminals to the streets. Kendall has maintained he is following the law. He has faced the ire of victims' advocate groups, who consider his decisions dangerous to the community. (See "Protest Demanding Judge Kendall's Resignation Set for Monday.")
During closing arguments Thursday, Carty described Thomas as "callous," having followed Cockayne out of the Front Yard Bar on St. John with the intention of killing him. After engaging in a verbal confrontation with Cockayne at the bar, Thomas and a companion pursued the victim, even though witnesses at the scene allegedly tried to discourage them from doing so, Carty said.
"Witnesses saw these individuals pick up sticks and go after James Cockayne," Carty said. "They tried to discourage them from engaging in this chase, a chase that resulted in his (Cockayne's) death."
After the murder, Thomas and his companion allegedly went to a nearby bar for a drink, Carty added. "This shows that he is callous in nature, that he did not care about what he did, that he has no regard for human life," she said.
Carty argued that Thomas, who works with his uncle as a fisherman, is a flight risk and could "easily jump on a boat and sail away to Tortola."
However, Willocks contended that if Thomas had intended to flee, he would have done so already. Going over the chronology of the incident and the subsequent police investigation, Willocks argued that Thomas had "plenty of time" to leave the island before he was arrested earlier this month.
"He had a good 30-40 days to leave," Willocks said. "But he never did."
He added that police, during the ongoing investigation, still have not interviewed a number of alibi witnesses, who place Thomas on a nearby St. John beach around midnight on the morning of the incident.
Additionally, Thomas indicated that he was at the Front Yard Bar from 10 to 11:30 p.m. that evening, Willocks said. While there, he said, Thomas and Cockayne were involved in an argument, but were thrown out by the bartender.
"After that, several alibi witnesses place Mr. Thomas somewhere else at the time of the murder," Willocks said.
While on the stand, Police Detective Mario Stout, the investigating officer in the case, explained to Willocks that police had not yet interviewed the alibi witnesses because the "investigation is still ongoing."
Willocks brought up Stout's connection to a case involving the June 2005 murders of Tristan A. Charlier and Leon H. Roberts. Why should the court believe that Thomas was guilty of the murder when the case against brothers Akil and Jahmal Hart — charged with gunning down the two tourists — was dismissed, Willocks asked.
In that case, Willocks contended, Stout found probable cause to arrest the Harts, only to have the sole witness in the investigation recant his statement implicating the brothers in the crime.
"You swore that these two defendants were involved in the murder," he said to Stout. "They were in jail for months based on your testimony."
Willocks further said that Thomas' "rushed" arrest came as the result of increased media scrutiny of the case, with national news networks such as FOX and CNN tracking the story from the mainland.
"The people out there, for whatever reason, are literally chomping at the bit for Mr. Thomas," he added. "It's clearly a violation of his rights."
Kendall agreed, saying that there is no way of knowing whether Thomas is innocent or guilty until investigations into the murder were complete.
"Until then, it's hard to know whether the defendant is even properly before the court," he added. "It might turn out that this defendant may not have been the perpetrator, or even aided and abetted in the crime."
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Aug. 9, 2007 -- Prosecuting attorneys in the case against accused murderer Kamal "Six-Pack" Thomas were dealt a blow Thursday, as V.I. Superior Court Judge Leon H. Kendall shot down a motion to detain Thomas pending trial.
Police arrested Thomas last Friday on charges of killing St. John resident James "Jamie" Cockayne near a Cruz Bay bar almost two months ago.
During a pre-trial detention hearing on St. Thomas, Kendall also did not accept the prosecution's $500,000 bail recommendation, calling the figure "too excessive." Instead Kendall set a bail of $75,000, but said Thomas only had to post 10 percent -- or $7,500 -- before he could be released.
Once bail is posted, Thomas will be released into the custody of his uncle, but will wear an electronic monitoring device and remain under house arrest, the judge added. Having already found the 18 year old to be a flight risk, Kendall said Thomas is currently not eligible to be released on his own recognizance or an unsecured bond.
Thomas is charged with first-degree murder and assault, along with using a dangerous weapon during the commission of a crime of violence and intimidating a witness.
Kendall further explained that prosecuting attorney Renee Gumbs Carty had "failed" during Thursday's hearing to present "convincing evidence" that Thomas had committed the murder. Reiterating statements made by defense attorney Harold Willocks, he added that witnesses interviewed after the incident had not actually seen Thomas kill Cockayne, who died as a result of multiple stab wounds to the body.
"This is a case of circumstantial evidence," Kendall said. "And the court cannot find that the government has proven ... that the defendant committed the offense for which he has been charged. There has been no testimony indicating that anyone saw the defendant with a knife."
Since taking the bench in October 2003 without the endorsement of the V.I. Bar Association, Kendall has faced increased scrutiny from the public and his been accused of continuing to release convicted criminals to the streets. Kendall has maintained he is following the law. He has faced the ire of victims' advocate groups, who consider his decisions dangerous to the community. (See "Protest Demanding Judge Kendall's Resignation Set for Monday.")
During closing arguments Thursday, Carty described Thomas as "callous," having followed Cockayne out of the Front Yard Bar on St. John with the intention of killing him. After engaging in a verbal confrontation with Cockayne at the bar, Thomas and a companion pursued the victim, even though witnesses at the scene allegedly tried to discourage them from doing so, Carty said.
"Witnesses saw these individuals pick up sticks and go after James Cockayne," Carty said. "They tried to discourage them from engaging in this chase, a chase that resulted in his (Cockayne's) death."
After the murder, Thomas and his companion allegedly went to a nearby bar for a drink, Carty added. "This shows that he is callous in nature, that he did not care about what he did, that he has no regard for human life," she said.
Carty argued that Thomas, who works with his uncle as a fisherman, is a flight risk and could "easily jump on a boat and sail away to Tortola."
However, Willocks contended that if Thomas had intended to flee, he would have done so already. Going over the chronology of the incident and the subsequent police investigation, Willocks argued that Thomas had "plenty of time" to leave the island before he was arrested earlier this month.
"He had a good 30-40 days to leave," Willocks said. "But he never did."
He added that police, during the ongoing investigation, still have not interviewed a number of alibi witnesses, who place Thomas on a nearby St. John beach around midnight on the morning of the incident.
Additionally, Thomas indicated that he was at the Front Yard Bar from 10 to 11:30 p.m. that evening, Willocks said. While there, he said, Thomas and Cockayne were involved in an argument, but were thrown out by the bartender.
"After that, several alibi witnesses place Mr. Thomas somewhere else at the time of the murder," Willocks said.
While on the stand, Police Detective Mario Stout, the investigating officer in the case, explained to Willocks that police had not yet interviewed the alibi witnesses because the "investigation is still ongoing."
Willocks brought up Stout's connection to a case involving the June 2005 murders of Tristan A. Charlier and Leon H. Roberts. Why should the court believe that Thomas was guilty of the murder when the case against brothers Akil and Jahmal Hart -- charged with gunning down the two tourists -- was dismissed, Willocks asked.
In that case, Willocks contended, Stout found probable cause to arrest the Harts, only to have the sole witness in the investigation recant his statement implicating the brothers in the crime.
"You swore that these two defendants were involved in the murder," he said to Stout. "They were in jail for months based on your testimony."
Willocks further said that Thomas' "rushed" arrest came as the result of increased media scrutiny of the case, with national news networks such as FOX and CNN tracking the story from the mainland.
"The people out there, for whatever reason, are literally chomping at the bit for Mr. Thomas," he added. "It's clearly a violation of his rights."
Kendall agreed, saying that there is no way of knowing whether Thomas is innocent or guilty until investigations into the murder were complete.
"Until then, it's hard to know whether the defendant is even properly before the court," he added. "It might turn out that this defendant may not have been the perpetrator, or even aided and abetted in the crime."
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.