Man Accused of Robbing US Supreme Court Judge Claims He’s Innocent
Magistrate says it’s time to bring the matter before the court
By Monique Washington
Vedel Browne and US Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer
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Feb. 16 -- “I have been wrongfully accused of a crime and I want my life back,” says the young Nevisian charged with robbing Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court Stephen Breyer.

Vedel Browne, in an exclusive interview with The Observer on Monday (Feb 11), declared his innocence and claimed the police were using him as a scapegoat in the high-profile case.

Browne, now 29, was arrested and charged with robbing Justice Breyer on February 9, 2012 during one of his vacation trips to Nevis. International media including CNN, ABC, NBC, New York Post, CBS, Huffington Post, New York Daily, Fox News, BBC, USA Today among others labeled Browne as a masked, machete-wielding assailant who robbed the Judge and his guests of US$1000 after authorities named Browne a “person of interest”.

On February 19, Browne said that he walked into the Charlestown Police Station to clear his name but was arrested and charged.

“When I was arrested, Mr. Carty [police officer] told me that I robbed the Judge and they gone charge me. He said they don’t want to hear nothing from me because I rob de Judge. They say it is a tall Rasta man who did it and I am a Rasta,” he said.

Browne maintains that he had an alibi for the night in question but again police dismissed him. He claims he was at someone’s home the entire night and the individual informed the police of such.

“She went and told them I was by her that night but they told her they don’t want to hear nothing. They never found anything on me or in my house. They never found any weapon,” he said.

Browne told The Observer that the charge has taken a toll on his life and he only needs to know when it will be over. He said he has had to spend money which was put aside for the birth of his first child to pay a lawyer to apply for bail. Browne’s bail was set at $100,000 with two sureties. He also had to turn over his travel documents to the police and has to sign his name at the police station six times a week.

“I haven’t heard from the police since I have been charged,” he informed.

Browne noted that it is hard for him to get job and he cannot travel. He said he contacted Commissioner of Police Celvin Walwyn via text about his situation. Browne claims that the CoP responded to his text and said he was sorry to hear about his issue “but you need a consultant”.

“They want to keep this quiet. If they call the PI [Preliminary Inquiry] they know they have no case. So why call a PI? Because they know it will be thrown out,” he assured.

On Tuesday Magistrate Yasmine Clarke told Police Prosecutor Trevor Mills that she would like to see Browne’s PI brought to the court.

“You know what matter I want to see, is the one with the Supreme Court Judge. You all charged the boy and it has been on CNN and all over; time to bring the matter to court,” she said.

Police Prosecutor Mills said they are “working on it”. The Observer questioned Prosecutor Mills about the delay in Browne’s case. He offered no comment and quickly directed this media house to the Police Public Relations Officer Inspector Lyndon David.

PRO David explained that the Magistrate will decide when Browne’s PI will be set.

“If someone is charged, there is a complaint or information before the court. Once that is before the court the court then sets the date,” he said.

Once the complaint reaches the court, he stated, it is out of the police’s hands.

“The court sets its date when it is willing to hear. However when the court is ready to hear a case and both parties are not ready, they can suggest to the court a date they feel they would be ready and the court normally accommodates that. Nobody sets a date but the court. The court is an institution on its own and it determines how it is going to run,” he said.

He noted that in some cases there is limited time in which the case can go on trial.

“There are some cases that have a life span of six months and some have up to 12 months and some have a never-ending life time, like murder,” he said.

The Observer contacted defense attorney Chesley Hamilton who informed that a ‘want of prosecution’ application can made to a judge to dismiss a case alleging that the prosecutor/litigant has inexcusably delayed moving the matter along and thus the case ought to be dismissed.

“You just need to know what you need to do in order to get that done,” he said.

“More often than not they [Prosecution] have to tell the Magistrate that they are ready, if that is so (what the PRO said about the Magistrate setting dates) the Magistrate would just set a date and if the Prosecution is not ready, just dismiss the case,” he said.

Hamilton explained that the Prosecutor indicates to the Magistrate a “call over date” and the Magistrate sets the date for the PI, “but if the Prosecution does not bring the matter to the Magistrate how will she set it?”

The Defense Attorney said it appears that some persons might be on bail indefinitely. The Observer questioned if all charges, whether minor or serious, can be put off for such a long time.

“That is what is happening right now. It is abuse of a lot of people’s rights right now in St. Kitts and Nevis,” Hamilton posited.