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HomeNewsArchivesWoman to Be Tried for First-Degree Murder in Sunday Stabbing Death

Woman to Be Tried for First-Degree Murder in Sunday Stabbing Death

V.I. Superior Court Judge Julio Brady found probable cause Tuesday evening to charge Carmen O’Neill, 45, with first-degree murder and possession of a deadly weapon in relation to the Sunday stabbing death of Reynaldo Marin, 31.
While awaiting Brady’s arrival for the 5 p.m. probable cause and advice of rights hearing, O’Neill sat silently looking down, periodically wiping her eyes with a tissue held between cuffed hands. O’Neill’s sister and eight other family members sat silently behind her in the courtroom gallery, the quiet accentuated by the audible hum of fluorescent lights and air conditioning, punctuated periodically by a sniffle or sigh, or the jingle of a court officer’s keys.
At 5:45, Brady entered the room and proceedings began. An officer translated everything into Spanish for O’Neill, including the advice of her attorney; Nullissa DeWese of the Public Defenders’ Office.
DeWese argued there was no probable cause for first-degree murder because that charge requires premeditation and that the act be committed "in a cool state of mind, not in a state of passion, where there is a just cause to act."
Citing the arresting officer’s statements, those of witnesses and those of O’Neill herself, DeWese said an argument began Sunday at the beach, continuing in the vehicle on the way home. A witness said the couple were grappling with each other as they came into the apartment, meaning there was an ongoing physical altercation, according to DeWese. That there was a single stab wound also showed O’Neill’s mental state, DeWese said.
"What you don’t have here is a situation of multiple thrusts but rather one which corroborates Ms. O’Neill’s statement," she said. "What we do not have is premeditation. … At best it is intent to cause injury."
Brady asked DeWese what charge she felt appropriate, with DeWese suggesting voluntary manslaughter.
For the prosecution, Assistant Attorney General Tonya Saafir said even in the midst of a fight, the law requires you to meet force with equal force, not with more force.
"One person is not justified to retrieve a knife and come back and stab the other person," Saafir said. "Ms. O’Neill concedes in her statement she went and retrieved the knife and started swinging it. It is clear intent to cause some type of serious injury, even death. It is irrelevant that there is only one stab wound."
Brady asked if there was in fact only one wound and Saafir read from the EMT report, which referenced a single puncture wound.
Saafir said going to retrieve the knife, returning and swinging met the "low burden" of establishing probable cause for the charges.
According to the police report, which Brady read from the bench, when police arrived Marin was lying on his back in the bedroom. At first, O’Neill kept repeating, "I was just trying to defend myself." According to her police interview, O’Neill said she retrieved the knife and swung, then saw Marin on the floor but did not remember actually stabbing him. She then reportedly got Marin a towel to press against the wound and tried to mop the blood up. After police and emergency medical technicians arrived, Marin was taken to Gov. Juan F. Luis Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 9:57 p.m.
Brady ruled the facts constituted probable cause, saying whether the specific circumstances constituted premeditation was a question of fact for a jury to decide. He then read her rights, which were translated to her. Defense asked for $50,000 bail, with 10 percent up front, arguing O’Neill has no prior trouble with the law and is the guardian of small children who may become wards of the state. The prosecution asked for $250,000 bail. Brady set bail at $100,000.
An arraignment date had not been set as of Tuesday evening.

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