ST. THOMAS, V.I. – V.I. Superior Court Judge Michael Dunston
handed Nicaise Steele a one-year suspended sentence for wounding Wendell Nibbs, Jr.,
with a box cutter.
Steele, 47, was charged with
third-degree assault, using a dangerous weapon and disturbance of the peace
stemming from a February incident at the K-Mart store in Tutu Park Mall.
Steele accepted a plea deal
offered by Attorney General Claude Earl Walker and pleaded guilty to third-degree assault. In
exchange for her plea of guilt, Assistant Attorney General Nadja Harrigan recommended
that the two remaining counts be dismissed and that the court impose a two-year
suspended prison sentence, two years of probation, a $1,00 fine, 50 hours of
community service and court costs and fees.
Public defender, Kwame Motilewa,
who said his client did not set out that February morning to injure anyone,
asked the court to sentence Steele in accordance with the plea agreement.
V.I. Superior Court Judge Michael
Dunston varied from the plea agreement and sentenced Steele to one year at the
Bureau of Corrections with all but one day suspended “because of the
significance of the injury.” Dunston also placed Steele on supervised probation
for one year, ordered her to make $458.75 restitution to Nibbs and pay court
costs and fees within the first nine months of her probation and perform 100
hours of community service. Steele’s sentence also requires her to enroll in,
regularly attend and successfully complete an anger management class.
Police arrested Steele on Feb. 15
after they responded to a report of disturbance of the peace. On arrival at the
scene, police made contact with Nibbs, who was bleeding from a laceration to
the left side of his ribs and left upper arm, Police Officer Ingrid Bukle wrote
in an affidavit to support Steele’s arrest.
Nibbs told police that as he was
leaving the store, he got into an argument with Steele, who pushed him and a
scuffle ensued. Nibbs said someone separated them, but later, Nibbs realized
that he was bleeding. Police later arrested Steele after Nibbs identified her
as the person who assaulted him. Nibbs sustained two injuries from the assault
and was taken to Schneider hospital where he received 43 sutures to close both
lacerations, according to Bukle.
Steele told the court that her
actions were not intentional and that she was defending herself.
“I have no aggression with Mr.
Nibbs or his family,” she said in open court. “I’m sorry, your honor. It has
affected him, but it has affected me even more because a second career that I’m
pursuing has been hampered.”
Nibbs also addressed the court
during the hearing. He said the incident at K-Mart began at Cost-U-Less when he
accidentally bumped Steele’s foot with a grocery cart.