Thomas and Boston Facing Second Jury in Cockayne Murder Case; Trial Started Yesterday

Anselmo Boston and Kamal Thomas will face a jury for the second time starting Monday, March 22, for their roles in the stabbing death of 21-year-old Jamie Cockayne in the early morning hours of June 19, 2007.

The two men will face charges of third degree assault and use of a dangerous weapon during the commission of a crime of violence, charges they were previously convicted of following an October 2008 trial.

V.I. Superior Court Judge Brenda Hollar threw those verdicts out after evidence came to light which had not previously been shared with the defense.

The third defendant in the Cockayne murder case, Jahlil Ward, was convicted of murder in the first degree following the October 2008 trial, which joined all three defendants.

After Hollar threw out Ward’s conviction, she ordered a new trial for him to face a jury alone. Ward was convicted of second degree murder after his second trial, which wrapped up in December 2009.

Second degree murder carries no maximum sentence in the Virgin Islands, leaving sentencing wide open to Hollar’s judgement. The only guideline in the V.I. Code pertaining to second degree murder is a minimum sentence of five years in prison.

Ward has still not been sentenced, however, as Hollar continues to hear motions to grant the 22-year-old a third trial due to controversial actions by the prosecutors. Ward’s defense attorneys were never able to track down a man who alleged that Thomas made a jailhouse confession about the murder, because prosecutors didn’t share the information, according the attorneys.

“Concerning defendant Jahlil Ward, who was convicted of second degree murder in December 2009, Judge Hollar has not yet made a decision on whether she will order a new trial or sentence Ward,” said Department of Justice spokesperson Sara Lezama.

In the meantime Boston, 33, and Thomas, 20, will face third degree assault and weapons charges in their second trial before Hollar which starts on March 22 in V.I. Superior Court. The case will be prosecuted by V.I. Assistant Attorneys General Courtney Reese and Claude Walker.

During their first trial, prosecutors alleged that Thomas and Boston got into an altercation with Cockayne at a downtown Cruz Bay bar on the night of June 18, which set the fatal actions of the next few hours in motion and ultimately resulted in Cockayne’s death.

Upset because Cockayne kicked Boston’s girlfriend’s car earlier in the day, Boston allegedly took revenge in the form of a pool cue over Cockayne’s head when the two ran into each other in the Front Yard Bar, according to prosecutors.

Following the meleé at the bar, Boston, Thomas and Ward — who had each picked up wooden sticks that were lying nearby — allegedly followed Cockayne up the street to the vicinity of Dolphin Market, where they surrounded him and beat him, according to prosecutors.

Sometime after that, Ward allegedly followed Cockayne to the area of the Fashion Palace where the Pennsylvania man’s car was parked. Behind a wooden scaffold, Ward allegedly stabbed Cockayne eight times — including a fatal blow to the femoral artery — before fleeing to a friend’s house, according to prosecutors.

Cockayne stumbled out from behind the scaffold, blood spouting from his legs and chest, and bled to death in the Cruz Bay street before emergency personnel arrived.

The case has been controversial since news of the murder first spread across Love City. After months passed with no arrests, Cockayne’s parents launched a media blitz alleging inaction on the part of the V.I. Police Department. The Cockaynes appeared on national television news shows including CNN and Fox News.

Arrests finally came in August 2007, when Thomas and Boston were picked up and charged with murdering Cockayne. Ward was arrested almost a year later in June 2008 at the St. Thomas airport upon his return to the territory from the mainland.