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HomeNewsLocal newsJudge Orders BOC to Bring Defendant Back to Face Trial

Judge Orders BOC to Bring Defendant Back to Face Trial

A few days before he was set to stand trial, an accused home invader was moved off island by Corrections; his lawyer told the court nobody told him. (File Photo)
A few days before he was set to stand trial, an accused home invader was moved off island by Corrections; his lawyer told the court nobody told him. (File Photo)

A Superior Court judge is ordering the Bureau of Corrections to bring an accused home invader back from a Mississippi jail to stand trial. In the order issued April 16, Superior Court Judge Denise Francois invoked the Virgin Islands Code to remind BOC officials of their responsibility.

Edwards, a resident of Paul M. Pearson Gardens at the time, is accused of breaking into a home while armed with a handgun and assaulting one of the occupants in August 2019. Court records say Edwards appeared at a pre-trial hearing on Jan. 8, but when his lawyer requested an in-person meeting with his client prior to jury selection on Jan. 29, the defendant was gone.

Through further inquiries by defense attorney Adam Christian, it was learned that Edwards was sent off island. The defendant was sent to the Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility in Tutwiler, Miss. Francois has now given Corrections officials until Monday to state in writing when the defendant will be brought back home.

At a hearing held Monday, the judge told those attending that she had tried to reach Corrections with a notice for Edwards to appear in court on April 2. A Zoom link was also sent for the inmate to appear. Francois said she received no reply and the defendant did not appear.

In an order written on Tuesday, Francois said she sent notices to Bell Facility Warden Dana Grant, to Criminal Justice Complex Warden Sherwin Miles, Corrections Paralegal Mosa Mathurin and Assistant Corrections Director Reil Faulkner.

“As of today, not one of these four persons, nor anyone else from VIBOC, has responded to the undersigned,” the judge said.

Assistant Attorney General Jalicha Persad and Miles — who was present at Monday’s hearing — were then asked why the defendant was moved off island. “Is there anyone present who can answer why Mr. Edwards was transferred from St. Croix to Mississippi?” Francois asked.

Both officials told the court they could not answer the question.

The Source contacted BOC Acting Public Information Officer Kyza Callwood for clarification, and was referred to the Department of Justice.

Attempts to reach Justice Department Criminal Chief Timothy Perry were unsuccessful.

Christian said he was ready to file a motion to dismiss the charges, saying Corrections was violating Edward’s constitutional right to counsel. He asked that his client be sent back to CJC on St. Thomas by at least June 17.

That’s one week before a hearing now scheduled for Superior Court. A new date for jury selection has been set for July 15.

After Monday’s hearing, Francois extended time for Edward’s attorney to file a motion to dismiss. The judge also directed Corrections officials to return the defendant to the St. Thomas facility “sufficiently in advance of June 24, 2024.”

“The VIBOC is charged with exercising control over detainees and inmates in accordance with law governing correctional institutions. 3 V.I.C. Sec 375(a). A detainee committed to the VIBOC remains in its custody no matter to which institution he is assigned,” the judge said.

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