ST. THOMAS – Two 17-year-olds face life in prison without the possibility of parole following a deadly broad daylight robbery in December 2021.
Akenda Weeks and Jahmar Lewis face a total of 28 counts each, including first degree murder, attempted first degree murder, kidnapping for the purpose of robbery, robbery and reckless endangerment. The offenses of first degree murder and kidnapping for the purpose of robbery are each punishable by life imprisonment.
Weeks and Lewis are among four people charged with the armed robbery which took place at Glitter’s jewelery store in the Havensight shopping center on Saturday 04 December. The incident, which happened around 11:00 a.m. left two people seriously injured. One of the victims, Gregorianna Julien, 56 finally succumbed to his injuries weeks later.
The 9-page probable cause information sheet reveals that police reviewed surveillance footage of a black Honda Odyssey entering the mall and stopping near the jewelry store, angled towards the exit. Three masked men were then seen exiting the vehicle, two with weapons in their hands. The first suspect, later identified as Michée Cozier was carrying a handgun, while another suspect identified as Jahmar Lewis was carrying a long gun. A third unnamed suspect was shown carrying a bag, while Akenda Weeks was later determined to be the driver who remained in the vehicle.
According to the probable cause information sheet, the three men were seen running quickly into the jewelry store and dragging the now deceased Julien back inside against his will. Julien, who was apparently shopping at the time, was leaving the store when the men entered. The men were seen exiting the store and returning to the van seconds later. Court documents reveal Lewis turned to fire back into the store, discharging several rounds before the vehicle drove away. As part of the investigation, police learned that the suspects took jewelry worth more than $18,000 during the theft.
Police later found the getaway vehicle unoccupied and with the engine running in the driveway of an abandoned building in Frenchman’s Bay. Subsequent investigations revealed that the vehicle was a rental that was reported stolen on November 24, 2021. Police also learned that the vehicle had previously been rented from Akenda Weeks in September. The VIPD was later informed that the suspects had changed their getaway vehicle and this information led them in the direction of one of the other suspects. Three of the four suspects were also identified through surveillance footage.
Investigations into the shocking crime determined that the four individuals – one adult and three minors – had been planning the robbery for about a month. It was discovered that the unnamed suspect and Weeks stole the van in November for use in carrying out the fatal crime. Police also learned that Weeks had been to the store multiple times in the month before the robbery and put jewelry aside. According to the fact sheet, the unnamed suspect later admitted to carrying the bag used to retrieve the stolen loot which the four then divided among themselves, selling some of it on the street.
While the four were originally charged with armed robbery on December 17, 2021, the case became a murder case following Julien’s death on January 2, 2022. At a hearing on Wednesday, Brenda Scales requested that the bail from Lewis and Weeks remains the same. set at $1 million. Deputy Attorney General VI argued that the defendants were at risk of fleeing as they risked the rest of their lives in prison. However, barrister Andy Johnson, who appeared on behalf of the miners, insisted the figure was “inherently excessive”. Johnson claimed that if a proverbial hat was handed out to everyone listening to the hearing, he wouldn’t come close to providing a million dollars. He went further by suggesting that such a character sends the message that a wealthy defendant can bond while a poor one cannot.
Although Scales doubled his bail request by $1 million, Judge Paula Norkaitis ultimately reduced the figure to $500,000 each, without 10% retainer. The judge asserted that no third-party guardian would be fit enough to mitigate the extreme danger the miners pose to the community. So if Weeks and Lewis are released, they will each be placed under 24/7 house arrest with electronic monitoring. Both defendants are strictly prohibited from having any form of contact with co-defendants, witnesses and the surviving victim in the case. They will then appear in court on March 18.