After a six-day trial, a federal jury on Thursday found 28-year-old Delroy Thomas Jr. of St. Croix guilty of murder for hire, attempted murder and attempted retaliation against a witness, U.S. Attorney Gretchen C.F. Shappert announced.
According to the evidence presented at trial, between March 9 and March 11, 2015, Thomas made a series of telephone calls, while in Golden Grove Correctional Facility, to another inmate. He solicited the inmate’s assistance in eliminating two witnesses in his pending Superior Court case.
Thomas describe the location of the witnesses’ residence to the inmate and texted their photographs to him. He told the inmate he wanted them “off,” he was dead serious, he would get the gun, this was eight months of thinking and that there were no ifs, ands, buts or changing of mind. Thomas discussed the price for the planned “hit” and directed a female to place $500 into a particular vehicle, intending that it would serve as a down payment. He also admitted that if the inmate did not carry out the hit he would get someone else.
Unbeknownst to Thomas, the inmate was a confidential informant who was working for the Drug Enforcement Administration. The DEA informant proceeded to record Thomas’ phone calls, which were played for the jury during the trial. One of the witnesses at trial identified Thomas’s voice on the recorded phone calls.
Following his arrest, Thomas told agents that he may have discussed eliminating witnesses in his case with other inmates when he was angry, but he denied that he had participated in any murder for hire plot. At his trial, Thomas testified that he did make the recorded statements but that he was merely “going along” with a scheme concocted by the inmate/informant who had threatened him into participating in the calls. Thomas testified that the calls were rehearsed and he simply followed the plan.
The prosecution, however, presented evidence of text messages Thomas sent to other individuals, before the phone calls, stating that he was planning a massacre, and that if the authorities did not let him out of prison, he would put a “hit” on a female victim and her mother.
On March 12, 2015, Bureau of Corrections officers searched Thomas’ prison cell and seized three cellular telephones and a knife from a case that was accessible from his cell.
Thomas faces up to 10 years in prison for the murder-for-hire conviction plus a maximum fine of $250,000; as much as 25 years of incarceration for the attempted murder conviction; and up to five years for the conviction on attempted retaliation against a witness charges plus a maximum fine of $1,000.
This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Virgin Islands Police Department and the Gang Intelligence Search Team of the V.I. Bureau of Corrections. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alphonso G. Andrews, Jr. and Rhonda Williams-Henry.