Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Prince Hall Masons accused of kidnapping, beating

St. Thomas, Virgin Islands — More than a dozen witnesses, including a DNA expert, testified in the trial of three Prince Hall Masons accused of kidnapping and beating a Frenchtown man in Superior Court Wednesday, May 3, the Virgin Islands Daily News reported.

The three standing trial, Virgin Islands police officers Bill John Baptiste, 34, of Estate Tutu and Dorian Foster, 36, of Anna's Retreat and tow truck driver Elvis David, 44, of Estate Tutu whispered to their attorneys and scribbled notes during witness testimony throughout the day. The three men are current members of the Prince Hall Masonic Lodge.

Michael Veraart, past worshipful master — or president — of the Carib Tradewinds Lodge No. 589, a Prince Hall Georgia affiliation, said during testimony Wednesday afternoon that John Baptiste and Foster were not bona fide members of the organization on Dec. 2, 2002, when prosecutors say the men abducted Sean Gagliani, then 24, and beat him before Gagliani was able to escape.

Veraart said both men became official members of the chapter in January 2003. David was already a member.

The three face counts that include first-degree assault, kidnapping and false imprisonment, aiding and abetting and conspiracy. A fourth unidentified man remains at large.

Assistant Attorney General Denise George-Counts used federal agents to detail the chain of custody for evidence that included interior parts of a Police Department Chevy Blazer seized for the investigation.

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