A St. Thomas man who became the subject of a public outcry in 2018 after he told a black man to leave Water Island or face death was sentenced to a year in jail. Upon pronouncing the sentence on Monday, the judge suspended all but 14 days of the sentence.
Defendant Christopher Rice, 66, originally faced 10 criminal counts for acts alleged in an incident taking place last June. All charges except the first, harassment by telephone/intimidation, were dropped in a plea deal.
Rice admitted using a telephone to harass or alarm the man’s wife, who is white. He also admitted his conduct was maliciously motivated by prejudice of the man’s perceived race and color.
The charging document, filed July 12, included this phrase: “he sent a text mail to (Nanette Reyna, a white woman, on Water Island … ), informing her that a contract was out on her black husband’s life …”
At the bottom of the document dismissing most of the charges, the defendant wrote, “I will plead no contest. Christopher Rice.”
At no time did investigators allege that Rice made similar threats towards Reyna’s husband, Christopher Williams. But the message that led to sentencing included an obscene reference to William’s anatomy and a suggestion that his physical attributes were “bringing strife to Water Island.”
The penalty imposed by Superior Court Judge Denise Francois was one year in jail and one year of probation following the jail term. Rice was given credit for time already served behind bars.
In exchange for the guilty plea, prosecutors agreed to drop nine other accusations of threats made by Rice towards Reyna between June 8 and June 9, 2018. Most of the obscenity-laced threats were made by phone or by text message.
In addition to jail time and probation, Rice was ordered to pay fines and retribution.
“He was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $4,662.28 rent restitution of $9,000, court cost of $75 and probation fee of $500,” said Justice Department spokesperson Corliss Smithen. “He was immediately remanded into custody to begin serving his sentence.”