March 27, 2006 – The police officer charged with fatally shooting an ex-girlfriend on St. Thomas and critically injuring TV personality Bogle appeared in Superior Court on Monday, and was held on $500,000 bail.
Joel Dowdye silently wept, then hung his head as Judge Audrey Thomas read the charges against him: first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime. He was not required to enter a plea.
Dowdye, a detective with eight years on the Virgin Islands Police force, allegedly entered the downtown Charlotte Amalie hotel room of his ex-girlfriend and her companion Saturday morning and opened fire.
Sherett James, 22, a receptionist with the Lt. Governor's Office's Division of Banking and Insurance on St. Thomas, died from a gunshot wound to the head. She was dead when police arrived, said Sgt. Thomas Hannah, a police spokesman.
Daren Stevens, who hosts an entertainment show on WSVI Channel 8 on St. Croix under the name Bogle, was shot in the abdomen and back, Hannah said.
Stevens, who also works with the Bureau of Corrections' Anna's Hope Youth Rehabilitation Center, was in stable condition at Schneider Hospital and no longer needed artificial help breathing after undergoing emergency surgery Sunday, said Police Commissioner Elton Lewis.
Stevens, 32, is from St. Croix but was on St. Thomas to interview visiting Jamaican reggae singer Glen Washington.
Territorial Chief of Police Novelle Francis said Dowdye had not had previous discipline problems and that the arrest shocked fellow officers who knew the detective to be hard working, dedicated and "upbeat."
"This incident certainly affected the entire Virgin Islands Police Department family," Lewis said in a Monday press conference. "I want to ensure the family and members of the public that this investigation will be conducted just the same as any other investigation."
Court marshals escorted at least one tearful person from the Superior Court hearing Monday where Judge Thomas ordered Dowdye held on suicide watch at the hospital's psychiatric ward until he paid his bail.
Dowdye's attorney, Stephen Brusch, argued unsuccessfully that $500,000 was excessive and that Dowdye would only be able to post roughly $95,000.
Dowdy, 38, was off duty and not in uniform when the shooting occurred. He has been suspended without pay pending the investigation, Lewis said.
Lewis declined to say if Dowdye's police pistol was the alleged murder weapon.
Five shots were fired shortly after 8 a.m. at the small Bunker Hill Hotel on Garden Street in Charlotte Amalie.
Dowdye surrendered to police a short time later, Lewis said. His next court appearance is scheduled for April 6.
If convicted, he could be sentenced to life in prison.
Dr. Tom Tyne, a psychologist for the Police Department, said officers who worked with Dowdye showed signs of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Tyne said it was difficult for officers to accept that the well-liked detective could have committed the heinous crime he is alleged to have committed.
"Dowdye was a very good officer and a revered officer. He was very dedicated to what he did," Tyne said.
Dowdye told Judge Thomas that he was a high school dropout with a GED.
Dowdye occasionally turned back and looked at family members and then hid his face in his hands. He wiped tears from his eyes with the inside of his black blazer jacket before a marshal gave him paper towels.
Hospital officials were administering psychological tests to determine whether he is a suicide risk, Lewis said.
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