District Court Chief Judge Wilma Lewis sentenced Delroy Thomas, 30, of St. Croix, to a total of 15 years for a murder-for-hire plot and witness retaliation, U.S. Attorney Gretchen C.F. Shappert announced Thursday.
According to a news release from the U.S. Attorney District of the Virgin Islands Office, Lewis sentenced Thomas to 10 years in prison, a $3,000 fine, three years of supervised release and a $100 special assessment for the federal charge of murder for hire, and five years on the Virgin Islands local charge of attempted retaliation against a witness to run consecutive to the federal sentence.
According to the evidence presented at a July 2019 trial, between March 9, 2015, and March 11, 2015, Thomas made a series of telephone calls while in Golden Grove Correctional Facility to another inmate. He solicited the inmate’s assistance to eliminate two witnesses in his pending Superior Court case. Thomas described the location of the witnesses’ residence to the inmate and texted their photographs to the other inmate.
The evidence showed that Thomas told the inmate that he wanted them “off”; that he was dead serious; that he would get the gun (to commit the murders of the witnesses); that this was the result of Thomas’s eight months of thinking; and that there were no ifs, ands, buts or changing of his mind.
Thomas discussed the price for the planned “hit” and directed a woman to place $500 into a particular vehicle, intending that the money would serve as a down payment for the planned murders. He also admitted that if the inmate did not carry out the hit, he (Thomas) would find someone else to commit the crimes.
Unbeknownst to Thomas, the inmate with whom he was communicating was a confidential informant for the Drug Enforcement Administration, which recorded the phone calls. One of the witnesses at trial identified Thomas’s voice on the calls.
After the arrest, Thomas told agents that he may have discussed eliminating witnesses in his case with other inmates when he was angry, but he denied that there was any murder-for-hire plot. Thomas testified at his trial that he did make the recorded statements in the jail calls, but that was merely “going along” with a scheme by the inmate, who had threatened him into participating in the calls. Thomas claimed that the calls were rehearsed, and that he simply followed the plan.
The Government, however, presented evidence of text messages Thomas sent to other individuals, before the phone calls, stating in substance that Thomas was planning a massacre and that if officials did not let him out of prison, he would put a hit on the witness and her mother.
On March 12, 2015, Bureau of Corrections officers searched Thomas’s prison cell and seized three cellular telephones and a knife accessible from his cell.
The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Virgin Islands Police Department and the Gang Intelligence Search Team of the V.I. Bureau of Corrections. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Rhonda Williams-Henry.