A 24-year-old St. Thomas man pleaded guilty Monday to fatally shooting an innocent bystander outside a nightclub in October, according to the V.I. Department of Justice.
Jibri K. Roberts of Bonne Esperance pleaded guilty to the Oct. 24, 2015, murder of Rajkumarie Hendrickson, who was shot and killed outside the Jala Jala nightclub on Kronprindsens Gade. Two men – Kareem Mathias and Chad Fredericks – were injured in the onslaught.
According to the Department of Justice news release, Roberts was scheduled to stand trial on 16 charges, including first-degree murder, but rather than face a jury, he accepted the terms of a closed plea agreement, which was negotiated by Assistant Attorney General Daniel Huston and defense attorney Darren John-Baptiste.
Standing before V.I. Superior Court Judge Michael Dunston on Monday, Roberts formally admitted to the crime. Under the terms of the plea agreement, Roberts entered a guilty plea to second-degree murder and the remaining counts against him were dismissed. The plea offer also recommended that Roberts be sentenced to a 20-year prison term. A second-degree murder conviction carries a penalty of not less than five years.
Dunston accepted the plea deal. Roberts’ sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 19.
Roberts was arrested Dec. 15 on a warrant signed by V.I. Superior Court Judge Kathleen Mackay. His bail was set at $1 million. According to the affidavit of police detective Dwight Griffith, Hendrickson was standing outside the nightclub talking with Mathis and Fredericks when a silver Jeep drove up to the area and stopped at a nearby stoplight.
Eyewitness reported that a man pointed a black handgun in the direction of Hendrickson, Mathis and Fredericks and began shooting at them. Mathis, who sustained a gun injury to his right ankle, sought refuge behind a wall, while Fredericks ran towards the direction of the Department of Labor, according to Griffith.
When emergency medical technicians arrived on the scene, they found Hendrickson lying on the ground. She was unresponsive. Mathis and Fredericks were taken to the Schneider Regional Medical Center to receive treatment for their wounds. An autopsy conducted on Nov. 7 revealed that Hendrickson died as a result of multiple gunshot wounds she received.
During the course of the investigation, Mathis and Fredericks positively identified Roberts as the shooter, Griffith wrote.