Wilson Pierre gets 40-year sentence again in Boynton Mall killing

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Wilson Pierre sits in his sentencing hearing Monday, November 14, 2016. Pierre was convicted of second-degree murder in the death of 24-year-old Berno Charlemond, who was fatally shot among Christmas Eve shoppers at the Boynton Beach Mall in 2006. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)

Wilson Pierre was sentenced to 40 years in prison Monday, marking the second time he’s has been sentenced for the 2006 shooting death of Berno Charlemond in a crowd of Christmas Eve shoppers at the Boynton Beach Mall.

In May, a jury took just 45 minutes to convict Pierre in the death of the 24-year-old, who was fatally shot near the JC Penney department store where he’d just fought with Pierre and others.

The jury in Pierre’s first trial convicted him of second-degree murder, and he was sentenced to 40 years in prison, but that sentence was overturned by Florida’s 4th District Court of Appeal, which ruled that jurors in that case received erroneous jury instructions on a lesser possible manslaughter charge.

His attorney, Gerald Salerno, asked Circuit Judge Dina Keever to sentence Pierre to the minimum mandatory 25 years in prison. Assistant State Attorney Craig Williams asked Keever to reinstate the 40-year sentence Circuit Judge John Kastrenakes imposed six years ago after his first conviction.

After Charlemond’s death, police initially arrested Jesse Cesar and Fregens Daniel, two men who were with Pierre during the fight. But after several witnesses described the shooter as being shorter than 6 feet with closely cropped hair in a stocking cap, police released Cesar — who was tall and wore his hair in chest-length dreadlocks.

Pierre was eventually arrested and charged with first degree murder.

Jurors in Pierre’s trial in 2009 appeared to be locked into an 11-1 split on a Friday, but they came back after a weekend break and convicted him of second-degree murder. Because he was convicted only of second-degree murder in the first trial, that was all he could be tried on in the second trial.

In the first trial, defense attorney Peter Grable told jurors that police got it right the first time and that Cesar was the shooter. Salerno made no such claims about Cesar this year, opting instead to attack the witness identifications in the case.

Man who said he “deserves award” for killing ex gets 50 years’ prison

img_4459Steven Guarnieri on Friday accepted a plea deal that earned him a year in prison for each of the 50 stab wounds he inflicted upon his ex-wife less than two months ago, when he killed her in their home near Lake Worth.

Guarnieri, 56, pleaded guilty to a single charge of second degree murder in Nancy Guarnieri’s death ass part of a plea agreement between Assistant Public Defender Elizabeth Ramsey and Assistant State Attorney Aleathea McRoberts.

Circuit Judge Dina Keever accepted the plea Friday and sentenced Guarnieri immediately.

The quick plea, which Guarnieri requested, means the 56-year-old former Key West man with a variety of health issues will spend the rest of his life in prison.

That’s just fine with Nancy Guarnieri’s former boyfriend, Luis Lema, who after he left court Friday said he was hoped it was the last time he’d ever see the ex-husband that Nancy always feared would kill her.

According to an arrest report, Steven Guarnieri freely confessed to deputies Sept. 10 when they arrived at the house from which his ex-wife was trying to evict him and told deputies “he deserves and an award” for killing her. Though Guarnieri claimed his ex-wife was the violent one, Lema said the opposite was true.

“She was a great person, someone who would do anything for anyone, would always help people out,” Lema said of the 15-year-old hairdresser. “She didn’t deserve that.”

The Guarnieri’s daughter, Nicole, was sin the courtroom for the plea and cried ass her father looked at her after accepting his sentence. The former couple also had a son, who is sin the military.

According to court records, Nancy Guarnieri called 911 eight years ago and said her then-husband was threatening to stab her in the neck.

Lema said they’d been divorced six years.

Jury to decide case of Riviera man accused of killing rival

Corey Jackson
Corey Jackson

Jurors on Thursday will begin deliberations in the first-degree murder trial of Corey Jackson, accused in the shooting death of 29-year-old Paul Johnson over what prosecutors say was likely an ongoing dispute over a woman.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys for Jackson, 26,  delivered their final words to jurors late Wednesday before Circuit Judge Dina Keever sent the panel home with plans to read them jury instructions and allow them to begin deliberations in the morning.

Much of prosecutors’ case rested on testimony from a pair of witnesses who said they saw Jackson call Johnson over to him on Nov. 20, 2014 after Johnson got out of his car in the 1100 block of West 31st Street. Assistant State Attorneys Aleathea McRoberts and Lauren Godden reminded jurors Wednesday that both witnesses said Jackson and Johnson discussed a woman in the ensuing exchange.

Paul Johnson
Paul Johnson

One witness said that Jackson accused Johnson of pointing a gun at him at least a day earlier. Both said Jackson eventually started firing, hitting Johnson five times.

“Don’t disrespect me and think you’re going to get away with it,” McRoberts described as Jackson’s alleged mindset, adding: “He wouldn’t let it go…The defendant had decided that it was past the point of no return this time.”

But if the dispute was really about a woman, Assistant Public Defender Scott Pribble asked jurors, who was she, where was she, and why did jurors never hear from her during the three-day trial?

Pribble also pointed out the fact that police never recovered a murder weapon and failed to to complete what he said would have been basic parts of a murder investigation, most notably never obtaining a search warrant for Jackson’s phone.

As for the witnesses, Pribble said the state’s best witness, a convicted felon, testified in order to avoid his own felony gun charge. Pribble used his last words to jurors to urge them to acquit Jackson.

“Because in this country we don’t punish people for crimes they didn’t commit, for crimes that the state can’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt,” Pribble said.

The defense’s sole witness was Jackson’s mother, who sobbed as she left the witness stand after describing how police came to her house searching for her son before they eventually captured him.

Seated in the court gallery was Johnson’s mother, Cassandra, other relatives and Angela Williams, one of the founders of the Palm Beach County-based Mothers Against Murderers Association. Williams, who has had to bury her nephew and several other relatives due to gun violence, expressed sympathy for the mothers of both men.

“Whatever the outcome is here, nobody’s going to win,” she said of the mothers. “It’s a loss for everyone.”

 

Riviera Beach man on trial for 2014 alleged retaliation murder

Corey Jackson
Corey Jackson

A trial began Monday for a 26-year-old accused of shooting a man five times in Riviera Beach nearly two years ago after accusing the victim of having pointed a gun at him.

Corey Jackson, 26, turned down a last-minute plea offer from prosecutors, according to court records, opting to stand trial instead for the Nov. 20, 2014 murder of 29-year-old Paul Johnson.

A witness told police that when Paul Johnson got out of his car that afternoon in the 1100 Block of West 31st Street, Jackson was standing on the other side of the roadway and repeatedly called Johnson over to him.

They met in the roadway, witnesses said, and Jackson allegedly questions Johnson about whether he had pointed a gun at him. One witness said Jackson referenced the gun incident as having happened a day earlier, another told police the shooter merely mentioned a prior date.

Paul Johnson
Paul Johnson

Johnson, they said, denied the shooting, and according to one witness Jackson told him a woman connected to Johnson had told him differently. The exchange ended in gunfire, and police found Johnson shot five times.

Johnson was transported to St. Mary’s Hospital, where he later died of his injuries.

In addition to first-degree murder, Jackson – who has a 2008 conviction for a felony marijuana sales charge – is facing a felony gun possession charge.

State to seek death sentence in 1990 Lake Worth murder

Jefer Negron
Jefer Negron

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against the 49-year-old man charged with suffocating a Lake Worth woman 25 years ago while her 18-month old son was in the next room.

Jefer Negron was extradited from North Carolina last month after a grand jury indicted him in the 1990 slaying of Minerva Cantu.

Investigators say Negron entered Minerva Cantu’s home on the 400 block of North F Street  on Nov 27, 1990 and suffocated her in the living room. Her husband returned home from work and found her dead and their 18-month-old son unharmed in his crib.

Minerva Cantu
Minerva Cantu

Although Negron was initially a suspect, Lake Worth Police never arrested and the case went cold. The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s cold case unit reopened the investigation in June 2014 and, according to court records, analyzed DNA samples and talked to witnesses who linked Negron to the murder.

Court records show prosecutors filed a notice that they were seeking the death penalty on July 7. Lasst week, Negron’s attorney, Seth Lawrence LaVay, asked Circuit Judge Dina Keever to set the case for a bond hearing.

The next hearing in the case is set for Aug. 9.

VERDICT: Wilson Pierre GUILTY of Boynton Beach Mall murder

Wilson Pierre
Wilson Pierre

UPDATE: It took jurors just 45 minutes of deliberation Thursday to convict Wilson Pierre of second degree murder for shooting a 24-year-old Berno Charlemond at the Boynton Beach Mall in 2006.

It’s the same verdict another jury returned nearly seven years ago, but that decision was later overturned on appeal.

This time, prosecutors presented a shorter case against Pierre, resting their case against him at the end of a day-long trial Wednesday.

Pierre will be sentenced July 14.

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Attorneys are now giving jurors their final arguments in the second-degree murder retrial of Wilson Pierre, the man accused of killing 24-year-old Berno Charlemond in a shooting that caused hundreds of Christmas Eve 2006 shoppers to dive for cover at the Boynton Beach Mall.

A first jury in 2009 convicted Pierre of second-degree murder, but that conviction was overturned on appeal, clearing the way for a retrial that began Wednesday and included seven prosecution witnesses.

Pierre, 31, ultimately decided not to take the stand in the case, though he’d considered doing so overnight. He did not testify during his first trial.

Assistant State Attorney Craig Williams said that because the shooting happened nearly a decade ago, witnesses’ recollections weren’t as clear as they were initially. But the witnesses, Williams said, remembered a few key things – like the fact that Pierre was shorter than the other men involved in the fight outside JCPenny just before the shooting

Berno Charlemond
Berno Charlemond

“Berno Charlemond was a human being. Someone was murdered in cold blood, on Christmas Eve, in our town,” Williams said, before adding of Pierre: “Hold him accountable for what he did.”

Circuit Judge Dina Keever will read jury instructions to the panel at the end of closing arguments. The jury is expected to begin deliberations by early afternoon.

If convicted again, Keever is unlikely to give him a punishment longer than the 40 years he received in 2009. Pierre is already serving a 20-year sentence on an unrelated shooting.

Boynton Beach Mall Christmas Eve murder retrial begins

Wilson Pierre
Wilson Pierre

One man had gone to the Boynton Beach Mall to get his 9-year-old son a new pair of shoes.

A woman was in the middle of an otherwise uneventful Christmas Eve shift at the mall’s jewelry store.

And another woman was with her daughter, shopping and getting her nails done in time for the holiday.

On Wednesday, all three took the stand as state witnesses in Wilson Pierre’s retrial on murder charges connected to the 2006 gang-related killing and described for jurors a fight, shooting and ensuing chaos that surrounded the death of 24-year-old Berno Charlemond.

Two of the three witnesses, Latisha Jones and Daryl Demarsico, said they actually saw the shooting. Ashley Lockett, the jewelry store worker, said she saw the fight between Charlemond, Jesse Cesar, Fergens Daniel, Pierre and others, but only heard the gunshots.

“He was on the ground, his arms stretched out, and his eyes were wide open,” Jones said of Charlemond after the shooting. “They had the church people around him and everything praying for him, but he wasn’t making any noise..”

Berno Charlemond
Berno Charlemond

Demarsico said he shielded his son from Charlemond’s body, but saw a man he later identified as Pierre shoot him, and then walk to the other side of the mall. Demarsico said he followed Pierre and later pointed him out to police as the shooter.

Boynton Beach Police initially arrested Cesar and Daniel in connection with the shooting. Demarsico said he later told police he saw Cesar’s photo in the paper and let them know they had the wrong person.

Pierre’s previous attorney, Peter Grable, told a first jury in 2009 that Cesar was the shooter. Cesar moved to Orlando after the shooting and was killed up there in 2007.

Salerno didn’t make those claims Wednesday. In stead, he criticized the two eyewitness identifications and pointed to a photo lineup where Pierre’s picture appeared to be lighter than the other five photos, each of which contained men who were also darker skinned than Pierre.

A jury in Pierre’s first trial in 2009 convicted him of second-degree murder, and he was sentenced to 40 years in prison, but that sentence was overturned on appeal after Florida’s 4th District Court of Appeal determined jurors in that case received erroneous jury instructions on a lesser possible manslaughter charge.

Assistant State Attorneys Crag Williams and Danielle Sherriff were expected Wednesday to call several witnesses before resting their case. Salerno told Circuit Judge Dina Keever that Wilson was considering possibly testifying in his own defense.

Boynton Beach Mall murder retrial to begin for Wilson Pierre

Wilson Pierre
Wilson Pierre

Jury selection is expected to begin Tuesday in the murder retrial of a man accused of the Christmas Eve 2006 killing of a rival gang member at the Boynton Beach mall.

Wilson Pierre was convicted in 2009 of 24-year-old Berno Charlemond’s murder and sentenced to 40 years in prison.

His conviction was later overturned when an appellate court ruled the first jury received an erroneous deliberation instruction on a lesser included charge of manslaughter.

Berno Charlemond
Berno Charlemond

The case was headed to retrial last year but stalled when a couple of judges stepped down from the case.

Defense attorney Peter Grable, who represented Pierre during the first trial, is also now off the case, and attorney Gerald Saleno will now represent Pierre in the case to be tried before Circuit Judge Dina Keever.

Realtor sentenced in Lantana senior home scam

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

The Greenacres realtor who helped a saleswoman pilfer nearly $100,000 from a Lantana senior community will spend the next two years on probation.

The plea for Glenn Gatti, 64, came just days after Natasha Deonath accepted an 18-month prison sentence for scheme to defraud and money laundering charges for a scam she ran while a sales executive at The Carlisle Palm Beach assisted living facility.

According to arrest reports, Deonath fraudulently listed  more than two dozen new residents at the facility as having been referred by Gatti, which made Gatti eligible to receive thousands of dollars under an incentive program offering payouts for steering potential residents to The Carlisle.

Carlisle, according to police, then gave Deonath and her husband split the fraudulent referral checks with Deonath, sometimes also paying Deonath’s husband.

Gatti told police he received about $100,000 in the scheme, which unraveled when Carlisle directors began calling the referred residents and found none of them had ever heard of Gatti.

Gatti is also facing unrelated burglary, battery and theft charges.