St. John businessman Robert Sells will be sentenced on July 31, unless V.I. Superior Court Judge Brenda Hollar rules in favor of several post-conviction motions by his defense, according to Sells defense attorney.
Sells, who was convicted last month of aggravated assault and battery and the accompanying felony enhancement charge that he committed the crime because of the victims race, faces up to five years in prison for bumping into a neighboring business owner.
Motion To Extend
Although Judge Hollar did set a sentencing date, at the conclusion of the trial we filed a motion to extend for time to file post-conviction motions, said Attorney Treston Moore. So that motion is pending, and depending on the courts pleasure, well see what the judge wishes to do.
A number of motions can be filed following a conviction, including a renewal of the motion to dismiss and a motion for a re-trial, but the possibilities depend on Judge Hollars ruling on the motion to extend, Moore explained.
I know that we take things in stages, and the next stage is to see how the judge rules for this motion, he said.
Sells, who owned Close Reach Imports in Meadas Plaza, and neighboring business owner Esther Frett, allegedly had an on-going feud which culminated in a bumping incident in June 2005.
The felony intimidation enhancement charge, which asserted that Sells assaulted Frett because of her race, was added to the original misdemeanor assault and battery charge in October 2005.
Sells also faced charges of disturbing Fretts peace and an accompanying felony enhancement charge that he did so because of Fretts race. He was found not guilty of those two charges and they were dismissed.
Judge Hollar ruled the physical contact between Sells and Frett was intentional and that Sells committed the act because of Fretts race. Hollar set bail at $25,000.
After spending a night in the St. Thomas correctional facility, Sells posted bail and returned to his St. John home.
Friends Solicit Support for Sells
A number of Sells friends have started a campaign to aid in his defense, by soliciting letters of support for the businessman via newspaper editorials and a recently-created Web site www.friends-of-bob.com.
It remains unclear what effect, if any, the letters to Judge Hollar will have in the outcome of the case.