Michael Abraham, 21, who allegedly confessed to his mother and former V.I. Police Department St. John Deputy Chief Angelo Hill that he murdered Alston Smith pleaded not guilty to a single charge of illegal gun possession in an arraignment Thursday, December 6.
Smith, 22, died after being shot in the face in the Pine Peace area at 5:57 p.m. on November 29.
The shooting occurred after Abraham and Smith had argued earlier in the day at Nature’s Nook in Cruz Bay, according to several residents of the neighborhood.
Smith, who had been staying at his cousin’s house in the Pine Peace neighborhood at the foot of Jacob’s Ladder on South Shore Road, was seen driving up the narrow street through the community shortly before 5:57 p.m., according to neighbors.
Neighbors said it appeared Abraham was already in the area as witnesses reported seeing no other cars pass by after Smith’s vehicle entered the neighborhood.
Shortly after Abraham parked his car in the street near his cousin’s home, neighbors reported hearing two gun shots ring out.
A white vehicle was then seen speeding up the road which connects to the top of Jacob’s Ladder, according to residents in the area.
Neighbors rushed to the scene, but were kept at a distance by one of Smith’s friends, according to several witnesses.
Police arrived about 10 minutes later, at which time Smith had already died, neighbors explained. The homicide victim was later identified by his brother, according to a VIPD press release.
Later that same evening, around 7:53 p.m., a woman called 911 reporting that her son had just shot someone and she would bring him to the VIPD’s Leander Jurgen Command, according to a statement from the VIPD.
“Michael Abraham turned himself over to police without incident and was arrested and charged with first degree murder,” according to a VIPD statement issued on Friday, November 30.
“A firearm, which police believe to be the murder weapon, was turned over to police,” the report continued.
Judge Kendall Allows Release
Despite the seemingly open and shut case, Abraham’s statements to VIPD veteran Sgt. Hill did not occur in the presence of a lawyer and prosecutors did not seek additional charges against Abraham for murder when he was presented before V.I. Superior Court Judge Leon Kendall.
Abraham had already given his statement to Hill by the time VIPD St. John Deputy Chief Darren Foy arrived at the station.
“I was already on St. Thomas when the homicide happened,” said Foy, a St. Thomas resident. “Abraham was already at the station when I got there and had given his statement to Hill.”
At Abraham’s advice of rights hearing before Kendall on Friday morning, November 30, the judge found probable cause to charge him with possession of an unlicensed firearm.
Kendall set bail as a $20,000 unsecured bond and released Abraham to the custody of his mother, Julia Gregoire.
V.I. Attorney General Vincent Frazer, who did not return St. John Tradewinds phone calls, was awaiting the outcome of a police investigation before deciding on other charges, according to a report in the V.I. Daily News.
“We need an investigation to determine the circumstances surrounding the shooting,” Frazer said in an interview with the Daily News. “We need more.”
While guns do need to get off the streets, parents need to be more involved with their children’s lives, according to St. John Administrator Leona Smith.
“It’s such a shame — these kids were so young,” said Administrator Smith. “We all need to work together and get more law enforcement oriented.”