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Charlotte Amalie
Sunday, July 21, 2024


William Penn Jr. of St. Thomas, convicted of engaging in a shootout in Savan last Oct. 31, was sentenced Thursday to six years in jail. Through a plea bargain, he avoided being sentenced as a habitual offender, which could have meant incarceration for at least 10 years.
Judge Ishmael A. Meyers sentenced Penn to 30 months for a jury conviction of a firearms possession charge and 42 months for a conviction of reckless endangerment of the community.
The total six-year sentence will be served concurrently with two other five-year sentences Penn received Thursday after pleading guilty to two cases of third-degree armed robbery.
Meyers told Penn that his attorney, Assistant Public Defender Brenda Scales, "wants me to give you one year on each count, but these are serious charges." Scales had argued that her client should receive no more than 12 months on each charge. However, the judge pointed out that Penn had been arrested more than a dozen times, dating back to 1991, on charges including rape, robbery, assault, kidnapping, weapons possession and illegal drug possession.
Although Penn's mother, Janet Jacobs, asked Meyers to have mercy on her son "because I know he wants to change his life," the judge told the convicted man, "I don't think you deserve a break. Even in the state of Texas, you are a wanted man." When he completes his jail term in the Virgin Islands, Penn will be extradited to Texas, where he is wanted on charges of assault with a deadly weapon.
Penn told the judge that the shootout with Curtis Grosvenor in Savan was the result of a longstanding feud between them. "Everybody would come up to me and tell me to watch myself because Curtis wants to kill me," Penn said in court. When Meyers asked why he needed to shoot with two guns on Halloween morning, he did not respond.
"You could have killed an innocent bystander," the judge said, pointing to a woman in the courtroom who had been injured by the gunfire. He said he wanted to send a message to "all young men who believe they must carry a gun to protect themselves" that "you don't need to settle differences with guns,"
After the sentencing, Assistant Attorney General Lofton Holder said that as part of the plea-bargain agreement, the Justice Department backed off from seeking to have Penn sentenced as a habitual offender. Had that not been the case, Holder said, the reckless endangerment and weapons possession counts could have landed Penn more than 10 years in jail. As part of the plea bargain, the government reduced the charges to which Penn pleaded guilty from first-degree to third-degree armed robbery.
Penn will be eligible for parole in three years.

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