Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Government of Virgin Islands v. Parrilla

filed: October 12, 1993; As Corrected November 23, 1993.

GOVERNMENT OF THE VIRGIN ISLANDS
v.
LUIS PARRILLA, APPELLANT.



On Appeal from the District Court of the Virgin Islands. (D.C. Criminal Action No. 91-00077).

Before: Becker, Cowen and Roth, Circuit Judges.

Author: Roth

Opinion OF THE COURT

ROTH, Circuit Judge.

The appellant, Luis Parrilla, was convicted in the District Court of the Virgin Islands on five counts, including armed robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, and assault with intent to commit mayhem.*fn1 He appeals solely his conviction on Count VII, assault with intent to commit mayhem. He brings his appeal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1291. He contends on appeal that the statutory definition of mayhem in the Virgin Islands Code, 14 V.I.C. § 1341(b), is facially unconstitutional because it creates a mandatory presumption on the required element of intent to commit mayhem. He also contends that the jury instructions were flawed because the trial Judge charged the jurors that they could rely on the statutory presumption of intent. Because we find that section 1341(b) does create an impermissible mandatory presumption, we will reverse Parrilla's conviction on Count VII.

I.

On the evening of August 11, 1991, Luis Parrilla, together with Wendell Semeina, Pierre Larichere, and five others, went on a robbery spree in and around Christiansted, St. Croix. The particular assault, which gave rise to the mayhem count, was directed at one Joseph Duggan. Duggan related that, while riding his motor scooter, he was run off the road by a group of masked men in a car. Larichere admitted that he was driving the car during the attack on Duggan. Wendell Semeina testified that the group had decided to rob Duggan and tried to block his path with the stolen car in which they were riding. Parrilla was seated in the back seat of the car, behind the passenger seat. Duggan attempted to flee, but in the process he fell off the bike and into the bushes next to the road. While Duggan was trying to roll through the bushes, Parrilla and one of his companions, Papito, fired shots at him. One bullet hit Duggan in the foot. The assailants fled but were subsequently chased by the police and arrested. As a consequence of the shooting, Duggan now walks with a limp.

II.

Parrilla was charged with assault with intent to commit mayhem as a result of the attack on Duggan and the injury to his foot. The Virgin Islands statute defines mayhem as follows:

(a) Whoever willfully and with intent to commit a felony or to injure, disfigure or disable, inflicts upon the person of another any injury which-

(1) seriously disfigures his person by any mutilation thereof;

(2) destroys or disables any member or organ of his body; or

(3) seriously diminishes his physical vigor by the injury of any member organ-

shall be imprisoned not more than 15 years.

(b) The infliction of injury is presumptive evidence of the intent required by subsection (a) of this section.

14 V.I.C. § 1341 (1992) (emphasis added). The companion code provision involved in this case, 14 V.I.C. § 295(3), under which Parrilla was charged with first degree assault for the attack on Duggan, provides in relevant part:

Whoever-

(3) with intent to commit rape, sodomy, mayhem, robbery or larceny, assaults another-

shall be imprisoned not more than 15 years.

At the trial, the district Judge gave the following instructions to the jury on the dispositive element of intent to commit mayhem:

Now Count 7, which alleges assault with intent to commit mayhem, requires that you find:

The defendant used or threatened to use unlawful violence upon the person of Joseph Duggan; and

That the defendant seriously disfigured or disabled a member or organ of Joseph Duggan's body, that is, his foot;

Or that the defendant seriously diminished Joseph Duggan's physical vigor by ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.