ST. THOMAS, V.I. – Jaheil Francis was on Monday sentenced to a
two-year suspended sentence for having pleaded guilty to a gun crime in
connection with a shooting death that occurred earlier this year.
Francis, 20, accepted the terms
of an amended plea agreement offered by Attorney General Claude Earl Walker and
pleaded guilty to a single charge of failure to register a licensed
firearm. He faced two charges – unauthorized
possession of a firearm with altered identification marks and unauthorized
possession of a firearm stemming from a Feb. 18 incident.
According to an affidavit filed
by Det. Nigel James detailing the incident that led to Francis’ arrest, police
traveled to Wimelskaft Gade (Back Street) to respond to reports of a gunshot
victim. When they got to the area,
police found Randolph Rabsatt lying face up with gunshot wounds about his body;
he was pronounced dead at the scene. A
knife was recovered near the body.
Police interviewed an eyewitness
who said that Francis and Rabsatt were embroiled an argument, Rabsatt pulled
out a knife and swung it at Francis, according to Det. James. Rabsatt pursued Francis with the knife,
Francis pulled out a gun and shot Rabsatt, discharging about five to seven
shots, then left the area, according to James.
Francis, who had traveled to
Schneider hospital for treatment of two knife wounds on his neck, was later
apprehended at the medical institution and arrested on the two gun charges.
In the plea deal offered by AG
Walker, according to Assistant Attorney General Eugene James Connor, Jr., who
outlined the terms during his allocution, in exchange for his pleading guilty
to a single count of failure to register a licensed firearm, Francis will be
sentenced under the conditions of Title 5 V.I.C. 3712 – probation for youthful
Francis’ attorney, Michael
Joseph, told the court that his client acted in self-defense.
“If he didn’t have the gun, he
would have been a dead man,” Joseph said.
Francis addressed the court at
his hearing and repeatedly told the court he was sorry about what had happened.
“I would like people to have
empathy more than sympathy,” Francis said. “I’m really sorry it happened, but
that was the only way of securing my life.”
In handing down his punishment,
V.I. Superior Court Judge James Carroll III upheld the recommendations of the
plea agreement, but said that this case shows the danger of firearm possession.
Carroll then sentenced Francis to
the guidelines of Title 5 V.I.C. 3712, pointing out that at the time of the
attack, he was 19, he has no prior record, he is a suitable candidate for
rehabilitation, he earned his GED and he has a scholarship from Woodward
Under the guidelines of Title 5
V.I.C. 3712, Francis was sentenced to two years and one month with all
suspended and placed on a probation for a period of two years. Judge Carroll also ordered Francis to
continue his education, continue looking for employment, to pay a $500 fee for
probation and $75 in court costs. Judge
Carroll also imposed 200 hours of community service, part of which will be talk
about the dangers of gun violence.
“He can proceed to go to the
community college,” Judge Carroll said.
“He’ll have to work out leaving the territory with probation.”