Home News Local news Melendez Pleads Not Guilty on One Charge

Melendez Pleads Not Guilty on One Charge


Jan. 23, 2008 — Two of the three men who allegedly shot a man in the face and back during a $10 marijuana purchase in Estate Bethlehem pleaded not guilty Wednesday to attempted murder, assault and other crimes.
Luis Melendez and Joseph Emanuel Rivera were arraigned before V.I. Superior Court Presiding Judge Darryl Donohue, pleading not guilty to charges of attempted murder in the first degree, various assault charges and commission of a crime of violence while in possession of a dangerous weapon. The third defendant, Nathan Torres Echevaria, was arraigned separately.
According to the victim's statement to police, Rivera, Melendez and Echevaria approached the victim the night of Nov. 23, asking to buy $10 worth of marijuana. When the victim began to hand over the marijuana, he was shot in the face. The victim sustained three gunshot wounds: one to the cheek, one to the back and one to the left armpit.
Melendez is also one of two defendants charged in connection with a deadly Christmas morning shooting spree in the JFK Housing Community. Melendez's brother-in-law, police officer Jeffrey Browne, is the other defendant.
Killed in the shooting were Allen Burke, 18, of Estate Anna's Hope, and Kennyetta McIntosh, 33, of No. 6 East St., Christiansted. Four others were shot and subsequently treated and released from Juan F. Luis Hospital. Browne and Melendez are charged with two counts of first-degree murder, four counts of attempted murder, four counts of first-degree assault, reckless endangerment, and three counts of unauthorized used of a deadly weapon during the commission of a crime of violence, and unauthorized possession of ammunition.
Melendez was arrested Christmas day on the November attempted murder charges and was already in custody when the police determined he might be involved with the Christmas murders. Browne was arrested Dec. 30.
Browne was on sick leave from the VIPD for the past five months, and since his arrest has been placed on administrative leave without pay.
Melendez and Browne are to be arraigned Jan. 30 on the murder charges.
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