St. John Tradewinds News

Facing Five Years for Felony Assault, Robert Sells Will Be Sentenced August 22

V.I. Superior Court Judge Brenda Hollar will hand down a sentence for Robert Sells on Tuesday, August 22, at 3 p.m.

Sells, who faces up to five years in prison, was found guilty of the aggravated assault and battery of Esther Frett and an accompanying felony intimidation charge that he committed the crime because of Frett’s race.

Sells, a 51-year-old caucasian male native of Michigan and father of four, has lived on St. John for 23 years and owns Close Reach Imports, which was located in Meada’s Plaza in Cruz Bay before an unsolved arson gutted one of two buildings in the commercial complex housing his business.

Sells was found not guilty of disturbing the peace of Esther Frett, a 45-year-old African-American female native of Guyana who has lived on St. John since 1999. Frett owns House of Dolls, a Coral Bay crafts store which relocated from Meada’s Plaza several months before the October 2005 arson.

Sells was also found not guilty of the accompanying felony charge of racial-bias for the that crime.

Guilty of Two of Four Charges
Sells faced four counts in all: disturbance of the peace; a felony enhancement intimidation statute for that charge; aggravated assault and battery; and another felony intimidation charge for that count.

The charges initially only included the misdemeanors of disturbance of the peace and assault and battery, stemming from an incident between the two outside of Meada’s Plaza more than a year ago.

After years of verbal confrontations between the two, Sells “bumped into” Frett on June 3, 2005, and he was arrested in a citizen’s arrest. The assault was considered aggravated because Sells is a man and Frett is a woman.

Felony Charges Added
The felony intimidation enhancement charges were added to the misdemeanors in October 2005, which accused Sells of committing the crimes because of Frett’s race.

The ruling was handed down on June 20, 2006, when Judge Hollar set bail at $25,000. Sells spent one night in jail before posting the bail and returning to his St. John home.

Hollar originally scheduled the sentencing hearing for July 31. On that date, however, Sells’ defense attorney, Treston Moore, requested a continuance for the sentencing. Hollar granted the continuance and instead heard testimony on revoking Sells’ bail.

Bail Revoked
The prosecution alleged Sells harassed Frett after his conviction — twice in Franklin Powell Sr. Park and once while they both were driving on Centerline Road.

Although Sells denied the allegations, Hollar said she believed Frett’s account of events. The V.I. Superior Court Judge revoked Sells’ bail and remanded him to the St. Thomas Correc-tional Facility where he has remained.