Dec. 5, 2002 – Attorney General Iver Stridiron said at a press conference on Thursday that he is "pleased" at the outcome of the trial this week of Wade "Yardie" Gumbs, who was convicted in Territorial Court on St. Thomas on Wednesday of first-degree murder.
Gumbs was sentenced to life in prison without parole plus 15 years for the possession of an unlicensed firearm during the commission of a violent crime.
Gumbs, described by authorities as one of the most notorious criminals in St. Thomas history, "will not spend his days in the Virgin Islands at Golden Grove prison," Stridiron said. "We will move him out of here." He said Gumbs will serve his life sentence at Wallens Ridge State Prison in Virginia.
Stridiron said a number of Gumbs' "henchmen" are incarcerated and awaiting trial. "Justice indeed does turn slowly, but we will continue to go after those individuals whose goal in life is to do criminal acts in this territory," the attorney general said.
He praised the U.S. Attorney's Office, the Police Department, the Victim Advocate Program and the key prosecution witness at the trial for helping to secure the conviction.
"I cannot say enough about the courage of this young woman," Stridiron said of the prosecution's main witness, who has not been identified. "This lady is one I think the entire community should use as a role model." Had she not come forward, he continued, "I believe that 'Yardie' Gumbs would have gone on intimidating people and, in my opinion, killing people."
Assistant Police Commissioner Bruce Hamlin said Victim Advocate Program "played a major role in placing the victim and her family in special care." Ironically, it was announced this week that the program will cease operations at the end of this month.
Assistant Attorney General Martin Alperen, who headed the prosecution, said the heavy and highly visible security at the Territorial Court complex "was vitally important, because it helped to create an intimidation-free atmosphere." This, he said, made the witnesses and the jurors feel more comfortable. He also said that having a sequestered jury also helped the case.
Stridiron said his office has proposed two crime-fighting measures that he hopes Gov. Charles W. Turnbull will support:
– An anti-loitering law to get criminals off the street, especially in high-crime areas such as the Savan neighborhood where Gumbs fatally shot Rudolph Fleming last December.
– A DNA databank for the territory that would allow for biological evidence collected at crime scenes to be cross-checked with the DNA — the unique genetic cellular makeup — of persons linked to other crimes.
"We're moving in those areas that will help us reduce the incidence of crime," Stridiron said.
Publisher's note : Like the St. Thomas Source now? Find out how you can love us twice as much — and show your support for the islands' free and independent news voice … click here.