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Lawyer: Manslaughter Suspect was Defending Himself

April 6, 2009 — The man advised of his rights Monday for voluntary manslaughter acted in self-defense when he hit and allegedly killed his cousin during a fight, according to defense attorney Ariel Smith.
While V.I. Superior Court Judge Brenda J. Hollar found probable cause to uphold the manslaughter charge against 24-year-old Claudius George, she didn't set bail during Monday's hearing. Instead, she ordered government attorney Lofton Holder to check into George's Social Security number and his immigration status. George is a native of Dominica.
Smith protested, saying that testimony from police Det. Mario Stout showed that George's cousin, Ernest Oliver, had him "in a choke hold" after the two got into a fight at their Anna's Retreat home. In a statement given to police, George said the fight started after Oliver accused him of stealing some jewelry.
George said he hit Oliver "with his right fist" and then he died, Stout said during George's advice-of-rights hearing. Oliver was pronounced dead at the scene.
"The fight was going on between him and his cousin, who had him in a choke hold," Smith said Monday after Hollar advised George of his rights. "There is no indication of premeditation."
"Premeditation doesn't have anything to do with manslaughter," Hollar said.
George is set to be arraigned at 9 a.m. April 16.
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