Voodoo Man Found Not Guilty in Machete Attack But Still Faces Murder Conspiracy Charge
FlaglerLive | October 21, 2015
Jurors found Roodlyn Mompremier not guilty of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon today after five hours of deliberation by a jury of two women and four men, ending a two-day trial at the Flagler County courthouse. The trial in a trial filled with conflicting statements muddling the events of the 2013 attack.
Mompremier, 31, had allegedly attacked his girlfriend’s brother, Steeve Leveille, in July of 2013, leaving a gash behind Leveille’s left ear, a disabled tendon in the thumb of his left hand and a large cut between his ring and pinky finger. The dispute erupted because Leveille and his family did not approve of the relationship between his sister, Dahana Balde, and Mompremier, who had ostensibly cursed Balde using voodoo (Mompremier and Leveille are originally Haitian). The State Attorney’s Office had to prove Mompremier struck Leveille, and that he used a deadly weapon. It did not. At least not in the jury’s eyes.
“Doubt is all over their case,” said Kurt Teifke, the attorney representing Mompremier. “Proof beyond a reasonable doubt is an incredible burden.”
Lawyers on both sides pointed out inconsistencies in statements given during the investigation as opposed to statements made on the witness stand during the trial, which began Tuesday morning. It’s a common tactics, especially in cases that have dragged: memory is fickle, and what a person says during at the time of the alleged crime, during a subsequent deposition or within the walls of a courtroom can change.
Mompremier’s and Leveille’s testimonies had been weakened by their own checkered history of making false statements. It did not help the prosecution that there was no positive identification from a witness seeing Mompremier’s alleged attack. A witness at the time of the encounter had told police that Leveille and another man had been in Leveille’s driveway when three men jumped out of a car and started allegedly attacking them with shiny long objects.
Mompremier testified that it was his friend who committed the crime after he had been attacked by Leveille with a baseball bat.
“His answers were convenient and he’s telling you what he needs to say when he needs to say it,” Opsahl said. She pointed out that Mompremier was the only witness who had been able to hear the other testimonies and who had access to the prosecution’s case: witnesses are asked to wait outside the courtroom until they’re called, but since Mompremier was the accused, he had the right to face his accuser and sit through all proceedings.
Teifke said Leveielle attempted to vilify his client during his testimony. Teifke’s line of questioning during the trial agitated Leveielle, who testified on Tuesday, to the point where he asked Judge J. David Walsh for a break.
“You’re under oath today correct? You’re sworn to tell the truth and you were sworn to tell the truth at the deposition,” Teifke said Tuesday.
“Of course that’s exactly what happened everything you’re talking about that’s exactly what happened,” Leveielle said about the 2013 incident. “I don’t know why you try to manipulate and play with me to make me say things I’m not supposed to say,” Leveille responded.
Teifke used the transcript from an interview with Leveille on Apr. 1, 2014 to show the jury differing statements from his courtroom testimony.
An eyewitness and the woman who called 911, Debra Wenzel, stated she originally saw two machete’s during the confrontation between Mompremier and Levielle, and later determined there’d been only one. Wenzel said she and Leveielle are neighbors and acquaintances.
Teifke asked Wenzel if, because of their friendship, she’d be be reluctant to report Leveille if the story was reversed–if he had been the attacker.
“No, because it would be self-defense in my mind,” Wenzel responded.
Teifke proposed to the jury that it should interpret Wenzel’s testimony through the filter of her emotions and her friendship the Leveielle: the attorney didn’t have to define what he meant, only appeal to the jury’s own emotions and familiarity with the pitfalls of friendship to sow the necessary doubt in the jury’s mind about Mompremier’s guilt.
“Maybe she doesn’t want to come in and have to relay what exactly she did see,” Teifke said.
It worked. But it’s not over for Mompremier. Though he was dressed in civilian clothes during his two day trial as opposed to his orange jail suit, and was not shackled, as he usually is during routine appearances before the judge (suspects on trial are allowed to wear suits or formal clothes so as not to prejudice the jury against them), he remains at the Flagler County jail, without bond, as he has been since February 2014.
Mompremier is still facing charges on conspiracy to commit second degree murder and tampering with a witness. His pre-trial is set for Nov. 4 at 1:30 p.m. at the courthouse. Opsahl could not comment because of the pending case.