ST. THOMAS, V.I. – The trial of James Nibbs, Jr. got underway
Wednesday morning before V.I. Superior Court Judge Denise Francois.
Nibbs, 40, is facing one count of
second-degree arson, stemming from a Dec. 28, 2015 incident.
Several witnesses, including the
victim, Erline Roach, took the stand to testify on the prosecution’s behalf.
Roach told jurors that she took her car to Cliff Tonge to be repaired. Nibbs
was also working at the same mechanic shop at the time. Roach said she paid
Tonge $700 before he did the work, but after she retrieved her vehicle, she
noticed that the work on her car was not completed. She called Tonge to tell
him that she was still experiencing problems with the car.
“Two days later, Mr. Tonge and
Mr. Nibbs called me. I went to the police station to make a report. While at
the police station, Mr. Nibbs left a voice message on my handset,” Roach
Prosecutors are also relying on
that voice message to prove their case against Nibbs. The voice, which sounded
like a man’s, demanded money from Roach, then threatened to burn something.
Roach, who said she knew Nibbs
and had heard his voice at least four times on the telephone and three times in
person, said she recognized the voice on the recording as Nibbs’.
Tonge, who also offered
testimony, stated that he has known Nibbs for about 14 years. After listening
to a replay of the voice message inside the courtroom, Tonge told the court
that it was Nibbs’ voice on the recording.
According to an affidavit filed
by police detective, Alex Dorsett, Roach told police that on Oct. 10, 2015,
Nibbs left a message on her mobile phone that he wanted his money or else he
will come and burn her vehicle. Then, on Dec. 8, 2015, at about 12:30 a.m.,
Nibbs went to the Mariel C. Newton Command and reported to a police officer
that he just burned a vehicle in the Frydenhoj area. On that same day at about
6:30 a.m., Roach called 911 and reported that someone burnt her vehicle.
During Nibbs’ arrest on Jan. 21,
Dorsett played the voicemail recording that was left on Roach’s cellular phone
and Nibbs said, “I didn’t mean the message; I was just upset at the time,”
Dorsett wrote in his affidavit.
Nibbs’ trial resumed Thursday
morning. Assistant Attorneys General Quincy McRae and Natasha Baker are arguing
the case for the government.