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Kyle Christopher Reaches Plea Deal Over Tragic Death of 4-Year-Old Aaron Benjamin Jr.

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In a recent development on August 17, both the prosecution and defendant Kyle Christopher have reached a plea agreement, circumventing the anticipated trial for the first-degree murder of 4-year-old Aaron Benjamin Jr. This trial was initially slated to commence the following Monday.

The harrowing incident took place in the Lorraine Village housing community apartment, where young Aaron was discovered dead on October 18, 2019. A subsequent medical examination of his body highlighted disturbing signs: both fresh and old abrasions, evidence of bite marks, and a notably blackened left eye. Subsequent inquiries revealed, through the boy’s sister, that Christopher allegedly used a black stick to routinely assault both siblings.

Christopher’s side of the narrative was one of regret and admittance. He confessed to physically assaulting the young child, which led Aaron to accidentally topple over, ultimately hitting his head against a chair. Apart from the murder charge, the charges levied against Christopher were of a severe nature, including aggravated assault and battery, severe child abuse and neglect, and third-degree assault.

However, the plea deal arranged on the said date will lead Christopher to admit guilt for Aaron’s tragic death, under the counts of severe child abuse and neglect. This agreement will effectively drop all other charges against him with prejudice – ensuring that these particular charges won’t be brought forward by the prosecution in the future.

Interestingly, this plea isn’t the first of its kind. A similar agreement had been documented in 2020, spearheaded by then Assistant Attorney General Esther Walters. Due to administrative delays, the deal was not presented in court until 2022. Unfortunately, by that point, Walters had already recalled the agreement through a correspondence sent to Christopher’s counsel in October 2021. This setback rendered the agreement null in the eyes of the court.

With this valid plea now in place, it’s expected that a fresh sentencing date will soon be assigned for Christopher. The agreement also dictates that the duration of his incarceration could range between 5 to 30 years. Additionally, it’s noteworthy that Delicia Daniels, mother of Aaron, is presently serving her sentence. Following a 2021 plea deal for admitting to child abuse, she received a punishment of 18 years – although she was credited for the slightly more than two years she had spent in custody during her trial period.

The untimely demise of young Aaron Benjamin Jr. garnered even more attention due to subsequent revelations. It was unearthed that Aaron Benjamin Sr., the child’s father, had persistently reached out to the V.I. Department of Human Services, voicing concerns over potential child abuse at the Lorraine Village residence. He expressed that his children had confided in him about being physically abused by Christopher and their reluctance to return to the Lorraine Village apartment. Despite numerous reports, the Department of Human Services reportedly showcased a concerning level of apathy. This triggered an internal audit post the tragic incident involving the 4-year-old.

While the findings of the audit remain undisclosed to the public, DHS Commissioner Kimberly Causey-Gomez did indicate in 2020 that significant personnel modifications and disciplinary measures were executed following the internal investigation.

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Crime

Swift Justice: Fugitive Duo Nabbed at St. Thomas Airport En Route to Mainland

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At Cyril E. King Airport in St. Thomas, vigilant Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officials thwarted the escape efforts of two fugitives attempting to flee to the mainland, underscoring the effectiveness of our law enforcement agencies in keeping our communities safe.

Jasmine Cherie Sheppard’s plan to evade the law came to a halt on a serene Sunday afternoon. As she navigated through the checkpoint, aiming for an American Airlines flight to Miami, the advanced security systems sounded the alert. An outstanding arrest warrant for Sheppard, hailing from Louisiana, was confirmed active by Fort Bend County, Texas authorities, leading to her immediate arrest on charges of being a fugitive from justice.

The diligence of CBP officers continued to shine mere hours later when Taheim James Hart became the focus of their unwavering attention. With an active warrant from Hudson County, New Jersey, Hart’s intentions of boarding a Delta Airlines flight bound for New York were swiftly curtailed. Like Sheppard, Hart was arrested and charged as a fugitive from justice, with both individuals being promptly remanded to await their respective advice of rights hearings.

The swift actions of the officials at Cyril E. King Airport not only prevented these individuals from potentially evading justice but also demonstrated the unyielding resolve of our law enforcement to protect and serve. Magistrate Simone VanHolten-Turnbull presided over the initial appearances for both Sheppard and Hart. Sheppard is set to return to court on March 19, with Hart’s follow-up hearing pending scheduling. These events serve as a stark reminder of the relentless pursuit of justice within the Virgin Islands, ensuring that those who seek to escape the law are held accountable for their actions.

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Crime

Attempt to Sell Stolen Property Back to Owner Leads to Arrest in St. Thomas

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In a bold turn of events on St. Thomas, John David Turnick Jr. faces serious legal repercussions after attempting to sell a stolen power inverter back to its original owner. The incident unfolded at Neomi’s Car Wash on February 14, drawing immediate attention from local law enforcement.

The saga began when the proprietor of a neighboring mechanic shop reported to the police that her Nissan Pathfinder had been burglarized a few days prior, with several items missing, while it was left unlocked. On Valentine’s Day, she encountered a man attempting to sell her a power inverter. Upon inspection, she identified it as her property, pilfered from her vehicle earlier, promptly reclaiming it and contacting the authorities.

John David Turnick Jr., identified as the individual attempting the sale, was apprehended by police. He initially confessed to the act of trying to sell the power inverter, alongside admitting to possessing additional stolen items from the same vehicle, including a speaker, flashlights, and a hammer. However, later at the Ancilmo Marshall Command Police Station, Turnick altered his account, claiming he had acquired the items from an unnamed third party.

Turnick’s arrest followed swiftly, with charges of possession of stolen property levied against him. Despite the charges, he was unable to meet the $25,000 bail set and was consequently detained.

During a court hearing, Magistrate Yolan Brow Ross confirmed the gravity of the charges, endorsing the bail amount. Pending his release, Turnick faces house arrest, monitored electronically, awaiting the resolution of his case.

His subsequent court date is slated for March 6, marking the next chapter in this unusual case of theft and attempted resale to the unwitting victim.

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Crime

St. Croix Woman Faces Legal Consequences for Selling Public Housing Appliance

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A significant legal issue has emerged within the Walter I.M. Hodge Pavilion, a public housing community on St. Croix, following allegations against a former resident. The individual is now facing serious felony charges for purportedly selling a refrigerator, an asset of the housing unit, highlighting the critical importance of respecting property rights within community living spaces.

The incident came to light when police were alerted by the housing complex’s assistant manager about the disappearance of the appliance from one of the apartments. The call for investigation was part of a broader eviction procedure. Reports from fellow residents indicated that Shamyra Alicea was seen earlier that day engaging in the sale of the refrigerator to an unknown buyer for $200. This discovery prompted an immediate inspection by the complex’s management, confirming the absence of the refrigerator, a piece of property owned by the housing complex, from Alicea’s apartment.

Further inquiry into the situation revealed that the lease agreement Alicea signed upon moving in included the refrigerator as part of the apartment’s amenities, underscoring the unauthorized nature of the sale. When confronted by authorities, Alicea admitted to the sale but claimed she had yet to receive payment. The value of the refrigerator was estimated at nearly $700, marking a significant loss for the housing complex.

The legal proceedings against Alicea swiftly moved forward, with her arrest on charges of grand larceny and a subsequent court appearance. Magistrate Yolan Brow Ross confirmed the validity of the charges against Alicea, setting the stage for future legal deliberations. The case is currently pending further action, with Alicea’s arraignment scheduled for March 6, as the community awaits the outcome of this distressing situation.

This incident underscores the broader challenges faced by public housing communities in maintaining the integrity and security of their properties. It serves as a reminder of the legal and ethical responsibilities residents hold towards communal assets, ensuring a harmonious and respectful living environment for all.

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