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• donderdag 22 februari 2024

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DH | El Capitan shooters in Pointe Blanche after extradition from the United States

HomeLandenSint MaartenDH | El Capitan shooters in Pointe Blanche after extradition from the...

El Capitan shooters in Pointe Blanche after extradition from the United States

Dante Ottley (In front) and Stevevanus Richardson (In background, standing), known as the El Capitan shooters

PHILIPSBURG—Dante Ottley and Stevevanus Richardson, known as the El Capitan shooters, and as fugitives after their convictions on appeal in absentia, are back in St. Maarten after more than a year and a half.

After arriving at the airport from the United States, the pair were taken to Pointe Blanche prison under close guard.

Ottley (then 27) and Richardson (then 23) fatally shot Manuel Gomez Lopez (28) outside adult entertainment club El Capitan in Sucker Garden on New Year’s Eve 2018. They also fired multiple times at Lopez’ friend W. J. while he ran for his life. He survived the shooting because he was wearing a bullet-proof vest under his clothes, but was nevertheless critically injured by bullets piercing his arms and legs.

During their first trial, the defendants had successfully invoked self-defence. According to both Richardson and Ottley, the victims were the aggressors. There would have been a life-threatening situation for them. They claimed they had to shoot them to prevent that they themselves would be killed.

The Prosecutor appealed the ruling by the Court in first instance. The Court of Appeal concluded from video footage shown in the court room that the victims were not the aggressors. The court found that two bystanders did not distance themselves from the men at any time and seemed to stand quietly while the altercation took place. However, when shots were fired, all ran away. Both victims were shot in the back.

According to the Court, there was no indication that the victims had carried weapons. No guns were found on their bodies, and bystanders did not see them holding a gun, according to their statements.

On March 31, 2022, Ottley and Richardson were found guilty of manslaughter and attempted manslaughter and sentenced to 20 and 18 years in prison, effective immediately. However, the two suspects, who had been free men since the first court ruling, did not go to the Courthouse to hear the sentencing. They had other plans.

On April 4, 2022, four days after the Appellate Court ordered the immediate incarceration of Ottley and Richardson they were officially fugitives.

It would take five months before detectives traced them in Fulton County, Georgia. United States law enforcement made the arrest on the request of the Office of the Attorney General of Curacao, St. Maarten, Bonaire, St. Eustatius, and Saba.

After the arrest were made public, the Prosecutor’s Office stated at the time that “extradition proceedings are expected to take two to three months”. However, the extradition process turned out to be a bit more complicated and both convicts remained in a United States prison for almost fourteen months.

“International legal cooperation led to the arrest and extradition of the fugitives. OM SXM will oversee the execution of the sentences of the two convicts,” the Prosecutor’s Office stated in its press release announcing the extradition late on Sunday.

The prisoners, who in the meantime have appealed their conviction, will now await the decision of the High Court in The Hague.

Bron: Daily Herald

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