CHRISTIANSTED — A man whose 2012 murder conviction was overturned on a technicality decided to plead guilty to a lesser included charge before a second trial in federal court.
Elvin Wrensford, 38, of St. Croix, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and possession of a firearm in a school zone, U.S. Attorney Delia L. Smith said.
According to court documents, on May 10, 2012, Wrensford and Craig Muller were at Ben’s Car Wash in St. Croix when an argument ensued with Gilbert Hendricks, Jr.
Wrensford and Muller left the car wash but later returned and approached Hendricks who tried to escape by running towards Food Town Supermarket.
Wrensford and Muller followed Hendricks, and Wrensford fired several shots at Hendricks from the passenger side of their vehicle.
Two days later, Hendricks succumbed to injuries caused from being shot twice in the head.
VIPD mug shot of Elvin Wrensford, 38, on St. Croix
Within one hour of the shooting, Wrensford was apprehended in nearby Estate St. John, about one and a half miles from the crime scene and six feet from a firearm with an obliterated serial number.
Muller was apprehended several days after the shooting in PuertoRico on his way to New York.
Forensic analysis conducted on the shell casings recovered from the crime scene was linked to the firearm and the vehicle used by Wrensford and Muller in the attack.
The shooting occurred within 1,000 feet of the St. Croix Christian Academy.
Sentencing for Wrensford is scheduled for January 17, 2024.
Wrensford was serving a life sentence for the 2012 murder of Hendricks, but that conviction thrown out in 2019 after an appeals court said police did not have probable cause to question him. He was given the chance for a new trial this year.
Wrensford and co-defendant Muller, were found guilty by a federal jury on St. Croix after a two-week trial in 2015, and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
The shooting occurred on May 10, 2012, after Wrensford and Muller were involved in an argument with a man at Ben’s Car Wash on St. Croix.
They left and later returned to the car wash in a red truck, according to court records. A second man, Hendricks, walked out of the car wash, saw Wrensford and Muller in the truck and began running.
They chased Hendricks in the truck and Wrensford began firing at him, police said.
Hendricks fell to the ground, and Wrensford continued shooting, according to court records.
Hendricks died as a result of the gunshot wounds and the government established the identity of the shooter through eyewitness testimony and DNA evidence, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Wrensford’s attorney, Federal Public Defender Gabriel Villegas, filed an appeal to the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled that Virgin Islands Police had illegally arrested Wrensford because officers did not have probable cause to bring him to the police station for questioning when they saw him running in the area of the shooting and stopped him.
Muller was convicted by a federal jury in March 2015 and sentenced to life imprisonment.
This case was investigated by the Virgin Islands Police Department (VIPD). It was prosecuted by
Assistant United States Attorneys Rhonda Williams-Henry and Evan Rikhye.