April 6, 2006 — V.I. Police Department Detective Joel Dowdye, wearing a red prison uniform in Superior Court, pleaded innocent Thursday to murder charges for allegedly gunning down an ex-girlfriend and shooting a local television personality.
On the morning of March 25, Dowdye allegedly entered the downtown Charlotte Amalie hotel room of ex-girlfriend Sharett James and companion Daren Stevens and opened fire.
James, 22, a receptionist at the lieutenant governor's office on the island of St. Thomas, died from a gunshot wound to the head. She was buried Monday.
Stevens, who hosts an entertainment show on WSVI-Channel 8, was shot in the abdomen and back, police said.
Stevens, 32, was released from the Schneider Regional Medical Center after emergency surgery, said hospital spokesman Amos Carty.
Dowdye was charged with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime.
He surrendered to police a short time after the shooting.
Dowdye was off duty and not in uniform when the shooting occurred, police said, and has been suspended without pay. It was not clear if a police weapon was used in the crime.
Superior Court Judge Rhys S. Hodge ordered Dowdye remain held on suicide watch at the psychiatric ward of the hospital as ordered by a judge in a March 27 advice of rights hearing.
Territorial Police Chief Novelle Francis Jr. 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 jovial.
No trial date has been set.
If convicted, Dowdye could be sentenced to life in prison.
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