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St. Thomas Man Who Tried To Set Himself On Fire, Stole Cell Phone Is Arrested: VIPD

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — A St. Thomas man was arrested and ordered to undergo a mental health examination after police said he attempted to set himself on fire one night and stole a man’s cellphone the next.

Katonio Peets, 49, was arrested Tuesday and charged with grand larceny and third-degree robbery, the Virgin Islands Police Department said.

Officers responding to a report of a theft in nearby Rothschild Francis “Market” Square, were told by the victim that Peets had snatched his cellphone out of his hand and took off on foot, according to a sworn affidavit filed by the VIPD. Officers said they found Peets nearby in “Simmonds Alley” playing music on the victim’s cellphone, and took him into custody.

Peets was taken to the Schneider Hospital after officers noticed “a large third degree burn on his left thigh,” according to Superior Court documents.

An investigation found that Peets attempted to set himself on fire in the area of a Kronprindsens Gade bar “and burned his left thigh; the Monday incident was caught on video,” police said. Peets was jailed until his advice-of-rights hearing Wednesday before Magistrate Judge Carolyn Hermon-Percell.

A lifelong St. Thomas resident with a long criminal history, Peets has five convictions, all of which “appear to have been plea bargained down,” according to Assistant Virgin Islands Attorney General Brenda Scales.“The most serious one was accessory after the fact to Murder 1… in 2012. In recent years, he’s been arrested for mainly misdemeanors,” Scales said.

Scales asked that Peets undergo a mental health evaluation before being released from jail, “to determine whether or not he’s a danger to himself or to the community,” and Territorial Public Defender Paula Norkaitis agreed that an evaluation is appropriate.

The judge agreed to order an evaluation, and set bail at $10,000 with the option to post 10 percent cash.

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