Hard Labor Man Convicted of Murder

On Wednesday, November 30, a St. Thomas jury took a day of deliberation on a murder trial lasting a little longer than that to deliver a guilty verdict in the case of Ralph Titre. Titre, 27, was found guilty of second degree murder in connection with the death of Tiny Jah Jarvis on August 17, 2012.

Investigators said Titre confronted and shot Jarvis near the entrance of Bellvue Housing Community in a dispute over a woman. The jury hearing the case returned guilty verdicts on charges of second-degree murder, first degree assault, third degree assault, reckless endangerment and destruction of evidence.

Detectives with the VI Police Department Major Crimes Bureau were able to recover the murder weapon after locating a 17-year-old minor Titre handed off the gun to after the shooting. They were also able to extract a statement from the defendant, saying he could have walked away from the confrontation with Jarvis but chose to shoot him instead.

Jarvis, 31, died from a bullet wound to the head, inflicted in view of the victim’s six-year-old son.

Titre, a father of four who lives in Estate Hard Labor on the island’s south shore, was also convicted of using a deadly weapon in commission of a violent crime and unauthorized possession of a firearm.

Immediately after the jury foreman read the verdict in the courtroom of Superior Court Judge Michael Dunston, the defendant was remanded to the custody of court marshals and sent to jail.

Sentencing in the case has been set for March 22.

The case gained notoriety in 2015 when it became the subject of a case brought before the VI Supreme Court. In that case, Justin Holcombe, the pro bono lawyer appointed to the Titre case complained his law firm was being overburdened with free legal work while other lawyers in the VI were passed over.

On Dec. 1, 2015 the high court ruled that Holcombe and another defense attorney, Robert King in a separate pro bono assignment, correctly pointed out problems with the system of serving poor defendants.