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MISTRIAL! Superior Court Judge Rules Hung Jury In Murder Trial of Retired Police Sergeant

FREDERIKSTED — A Superior Court jury took two days to deliberate but ultimately could not reach a unanimous decision in the second-degree murder trial of former Virgin Islands Police Department (VIPD) Sgt. Ronald Hatcher.

After a more than week-long trial, and nearly five years in the waiting, a seven-woman, five-man jury said that Hatcher was not guilty of reckless endangerment and not guilty of using a deadly weapon during the commission of a crime.

Hatcher was originally charged with second-degree murder, but the V.I. Department of Justice entered a revised information on Monday charging him instead with the lesser offense of voluntary manslaughter, according to Hatcher’s attorney Yohana Manning. The jury hung on this lesser charge.

V.I. Attorney General Claude Walker, who unsuccessfully brought the charges against former VIPD sergeant Hatcher, did not immediately comment on the verdict. Walker apparently has not reached a decision on whether to re-try Hatcher.

Hatcher’s defense team did not dispute that the former police sergeant shot and killed 43-year-old Jose Edgardo Rivera Berrios in 2013. The question is court was whether Hatcher was criminally responsible in the killing.

On Sept. 26, 2013, Hatcher and the victim were involved in a confrontation on Queen Cross Street in Christiansted.

Witnesses said Hatcher shot the victim at least once.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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