89.3 F
Charlotte Amalie
Friday, August 19, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesVIPD, Justice Department and Governor Praise Guilty Verdicts

VIPD, Justice Department and Governor Praise Guilty Verdicts

Police, Justice Department officials and the governor praised the jury’s guilty verdicts against two accused killers of V.I. Police Officer Wendell Williams in a statement that seemed to take the verdicts as vindication of the police department’s handling of the case.

During the trial, it came out that an eyewitness gave a statement to police in Miami in 2002, implicating Rivera, Ventura and others in Williams’ 2001 death, but the case languished for a number of years.

On Thursday, after a day and a half of deliberation, 12 jurors unanimously convicted Jose G. Ventura, 43, of Estate Whim and Jose M. Rivera Jr., 39, in the June 2001 torture and murder of Williams. The V.I. Superior Court jury acquitted Maximiliano Velasquez, 40, of Estate Clifton Hill.

Attorney General Vincent Frazer praised the lone prosecutor in the high-profile case, Assistant Attorney General Kip Roberson, as well as the VIPD. “We honor the findings of the jury and we believe that justice has been served by this verdict. There is no doubt that the responsible persons have been held accountable for the death of Corporal Williams,” he said He also thanked the FBI for their help.

Advertising (skip)

Gov. John deJongh Jr. weighed in, saying this "case has lingered since 2001 when Corporal Williams vanished after completing a tour of duty with the VIPD. Tonight his family and friends can finally begin to experience closure now that a verdict has been reached. Ultimately they have carried the heaviest burden during this ordeal and our prayers remain with them.”

DeJongh said the verdict showed the strength of the Virgin Islands justice system. “It took 11 years to crack the case and two years to bring the case to trial but we are confident that justice has prevailed," deJongh said.

Police Commissioner Rodney Querrard said sometimes there is the belief that the wheels of justice are not turning or are turning too slowly. Thursday’s verdict, he said, proves that the wheels of justice are turning and that it is just a matter of time before the truth is revealed.

“I want to thank all who were involved in one way or the other in bringing closure to the family and friends of our fallen brother, Police Corporal Wendell Williams,” he said.

Querrard said further that justice was served with the convictions rendered. “The Virgin Islands Police Department, along with all law enforcement agencies in the territory, local and federal, will continue to do everything in our power, with the assistance of each of you, to do what is right for our people and our many visitors. We, as a community, cannot and must not let those ‘certain few’ continue to wreak havoc with the belief that no one will speak out,” he said.

According to the Government House statement, Assistant Police Commissioner Thomas Hannah said that a cloud of doubt has been lifted off of the shoulders of the VIPD with these convictions. “I would like to thank the Virgin Islands community for its support and well wishes throughout this ordeal,” Hannah said.

He gave thanks “to the diligent and hard work of all the officers and attorneys who were involved.”

“My thanks go out especially to the Corporal Williams’ family who shouldered the heaviest burden for such a long period of time,” Hannah said, adding that their faith never wavered and that now they might close this chapter and allow Williams to rest in peace. “Justice has been served and those convicted today will finally be punished,” he said Thursday.

The cloud of doubt Hannah referred to were questions raised about the Police Department’s initial investigation of the killing.

Williams’ sister, Jaslene Williams, testified that she had suspected police might be involved, in part because someone signed Corp. Williams into work for several days after his disappearance. The prosecution suggested this was someone trying to do Williams a favor.

Eyewitness Theresa Coogle testified she initially approached police in Miami in 2002 and told them about the killing, and she gave subsequent statements in 2005, 2007 and 2011. Those statements were presented into evidence in the case.

Police Sgt. George Felix, supervisor of the VIPD forensic unit, testified he was sent to examine a building near the crime scene in 2002, but was sent to a different structure than the one later identified by Coogle, and that he had found no evidence. He examined the building identified by Coogle in 2012, also finding nothing, but said it would be next to impossible for DNA or fingerprints to endure such a long time.

There was no testimony addressing why nothing else was done at the time of the first or second statements by Coogle. The VIPD Cold Case unit took up the case and contacted Coogle in 2011, getting a new statement. Coogle then led VIPD officers to the crime scene, and V.I. police officers, the V.I. Department of Justice and FBI put together a case and arrested five defendants in January of 2012.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.




Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.

FROM FACEBOOK

Comments Box SVG iconsUsed for the like, share, comment, and reaction icons
Load more

Police, Justice Department officials and the governor praised the jury's guilty verdicts against two accused killers of V.I. Police Officer Wendell Williams in a statement that seemed to take the verdicts as vindication of the police department's handling of the case.

During the trial, it came out that an eyewitness gave a statement to police in Miami in 2002, implicating Rivera, Ventura and others in Williams’ 2001 death, but the case languished for a number of years.

On Thursday, after a day and a half of deliberation, 12 jurors unanimously convicted Jose G. Ventura, 43, of Estate Whim and Jose M. Rivera Jr., 39, in the June 2001 torture and murder of Williams. The V.I. Superior Court jury acquitted Maximiliano Velasquez, 40, of Estate Clifton Hill.

Attorney General Vincent Frazer praised the lone prosecutor in the high-profile case, Assistant Attorney General Kip Roberson, as well as the VIPD. “We honor the findings of the jury and we believe that justice has been served by this verdict. There is no doubt that the responsible persons have been held accountable for the death of Corporal Williams,” he said He also thanked the FBI for their help.

Gov. John deJongh Jr. weighed in, saying this "case has lingered since 2001 when Corporal Williams vanished after completing a tour of duty with the VIPD. Tonight his family and friends can finally begin to experience closure now that a verdict has been reached. Ultimately they have carried the heaviest burden during this ordeal and our prayers remain with them.”

DeJongh said the verdict showed the strength of the Virgin Islands justice system. “It took 11 years to crack the case and two years to bring the case to trial but we are confident that justice has prevailed," deJongh said.

Police Commissioner Rodney Querrard said sometimes there is the belief that the wheels of justice are not turning or are turning too slowly. Thursday’s verdict, he said, proves that the wheels of justice are turning and that it is just a matter of time before the truth is revealed.

“I want to thank all who were involved in one way or the other in bringing closure to the family and friends of our fallen brother, Police Corporal Wendell Williams,” he said.

Querrard said further that justice was served with the convictions rendered. “The Virgin Islands Police Department, along with all law enforcement agencies in the territory, local and federal, will continue to do everything in our power, with the assistance of each of you, to do what is right for our people and our many visitors. We, as a community, cannot and must not let those ‘certain few’ continue to wreak havoc with the belief that no one will speak out,” he said.

According to the Government House statement, Assistant Police Commissioner Thomas Hannah said that a cloud of doubt has been lifted off of the shoulders of the VIPD with these convictions. “I would like to thank the Virgin Islands community for its support and well wishes throughout this ordeal,” Hannah said.

He gave thanks “to the diligent and hard work of all the officers and attorneys who were involved.”

“My thanks go out especially to the Corporal Williams’ family who shouldered the heaviest burden for such a long period of time,” Hannah said, adding that their faith never wavered and that now they might close this chapter and allow Williams to rest in peace. “Justice has been served and those convicted today will finally be punished,” he said Thursday.

The cloud of doubt Hannah referred to were questions raised about the Police Department's initial investigation of the killing.

Williams' sister, Jaslene Williams, testified that she had suspected police might be involved, in part because someone signed Corp. Williams into work for several days after his disappearance. The prosecution suggested this was someone trying to do Williams a favor.

Eyewitness Theresa Coogle testified she initially approached police in Miami in 2002 and told them about the killing, and she gave subsequent statements in 2005, 2007 and 2011. Those statements were presented into evidence in the case.

Police Sgt. George Felix, supervisor of the VIPD forensic unit, testified he was sent to examine a building near the crime scene in 2002, but was sent to a different structure than the one later identified by Coogle, and that he had found no evidence. He examined the building identified by Coogle in 2012, also finding nothing, but said it would be next to impossible for DNA or fingerprints to endure such a long time.

There was no testimony addressing why nothing else was done at the time of the first or second statements by Coogle. The VIPD Cold Case unit took up the case and contacted Coogle in 2011, getting a new statement. Coogle then led VIPD officers to the crime scene, and V.I. police officers, the V.I. Department of Justice and FBI put together a case and arrested five defendants in January of 2012.