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Friday, August 12, 2022
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Suspect Pleads Guilty To Murder of Law Clerk

One of the two suspects charged with the October 2008 slaying of V.I. Superior Court law clerk Gabe Lerner is facing a maximum life sentence after taking a deal this week and pleading guilty to one count each of second-degree murder and first-degree assault-robbery.
John Jared Southwell and Auriel Devon Frett were picked up in late October 2008 after they were spotted driving Lerner’s car. The two managed to elude police officers after leading them on a high speed car chase through the streets of St. Thomas, but were caught later that evening and brought in for questioning.
By that time, Lerner, a judicial law clerk for Superior Court Judge Brenda J. Hollar, had been reported missing for two days.
According to detectives, information provided by Southwell — who was discovered at that time to be a runaway — led police to Lerner’s body, which was found on the far west end of the island, near the Blue Water Bible College.
In court hearings, police detectives said that Frett and Southwell allegedly robbed and abducted Lerner after he stopped to give them a ride. Lerner was subsequently locked in the trunk as the two allegedly drove around the island, finally stopping on the West End, where Lerner was later killed — shot once in the back of the head.
A minor at the time of his initial arrest, Southwell was bound over as an adult in June and charged with: aiding and abetting Frett in first-degree murder, felony murder, first degree assault-robbery and using an unauthorized firearm during the commission of a murder.
The deal he accepted includes two of the charges, for which he faces a minimum five years to life in prison.
V.I. Superior Court Judge Harold Willocks has ordered that Southwell be remanded to the Bureau of Corrections until his scheduled sentencing date on Nov. 15.

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One of the two suspects charged with the October 2008 slaying of V.I. Superior Court law clerk Gabe Lerner is facing a maximum life sentence after taking a deal this week and pleading guilty to one count each of second-degree murder and first-degree assault-robbery.
John Jared Southwell and Auriel Devon Frett were picked up in late October 2008 after they were spotted driving Lerner's car. The two managed to elude police officers after leading them on a high speed car chase through the streets of St. Thomas, but were caught later that evening and brought in for questioning.
By that time, Lerner, a judicial law clerk for Superior Court Judge Brenda J. Hollar, had been reported missing for two days.
According to detectives, information provided by Southwell -- who was discovered at that time to be a runaway -- led police to Lerner's body, which was found on the far west end of the island, near the Blue Water Bible College.
In court hearings, police detectives said that Frett and Southwell allegedly robbed and abducted Lerner after he stopped to give them a ride. Lerner was subsequently locked in the trunk as the two allegedly drove around the island, finally stopping on the West End, where Lerner was later killed -- shot once in the back of the head.
A minor at the time of his initial arrest, Southwell was bound over as an adult in June and charged with: aiding and abetting Frett in first-degree murder, felony murder, first degree assault-robbery and using an unauthorized firearm during the commission of a murder.
The deal he accepted includes two of the charges, for which he faces a minimum five years to life in prison.
V.I. Superior Court Judge Harold Willocks has ordered that Southwell be remanded to the Bureau of Corrections until his scheduled sentencing date on Nov. 15.