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Homeless Man Snubs Nose At Court, Vowing To Return To Kmart After Release From Jail Despite Store Ban

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — A repeat offender has vowed to return to Kmart once he is released from jail, despite a Superior Court ruling saying he can’t.

Leon Alphonso Wilkins, 35, of no fixed address, has been banned from going within 10 feet of all Kmarts in St. Thomas, after two employees testified that he’s been on a yearlong campaign of harassment and theft.

One of Kmart’s asset protection managers told Magistrate Judge Carolyn Hermon-Percell that Wilkins has boasted that even if he’s charged, “he’s going to go to court and get released” because he’s careful to steal less than $500 worth of merchandise.

Wilkins appeared for his advice-of- rights hearing via videoconference, where Assistant Virgin Islands Attorney General Brenda Scales said he was arrested twice last year for larceny, and has previously been convicted of assault and a weapons crime.

The judge gave store employees an opportunity to describe what they’ve been dealing with at both locations in Tutu Park Mall and Lockhart Garden.

“I’ve personally spoken to him, I’ve stopped him and asked him to respect the store,” the manager said, and while Wilkins has never physically assaulted an employee, he’s made “threatening” remarks on several occasions.

Territorial Public Defender Frederick Johnson said the 35-year-old Wilkins had been sleeping in the Market Square area, but now stays in Simmonds Alley.

“He would be one of our more vulnerable homeless people. He does have family on the island, although it looks like he might be estranged,” Johnson said. “He is a lifelong resident of the Virgin Islands and he does have many ties to the community,” including a variety of close relatives and five children on both St. Thomas and St. Croix.

The judge said she would allow him to be released after posting 10 percent of a $500 bond, but ordered him to stay at least 10 feet away from the entrance of all Kmart stores while he awaits trial.

Wilkins was charged with stealing a pair of sunglasses from the Vision Center at Nisky Center in December of 2020, according to police records.

In September 2014, the Virgin Islands Police Department alleged that Wilkins held a knife to his wife’s neck and destroyed furniture at a residence in Old Tutu.

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