A material witness whose testimony is being sought in Pennsylvania was improperly held in prison on St. Croix for two days while waiting to go before a judge, who ordered the man released from Bureau of Corrections custody Wednesday.
Daniel Felix was identified as a reluctant witness, and authorities in Pennsylvania are seeking to compel him to testify in a matter in that state, St. Croix V.I. Superior Court Judge Darryl Donohue said during a hearing Wednesday morning.
A material witness warrant was issued Friday and executed Monday, but Donohue said Felix was not immediately brought before a judge.
Instead, he was held at Golden Grove Adult Correctional Facility alongside individuals charged with criminal acts.
“This is not advice of rights, Mr. Felix is not charged with any crime whatsoever, he is not a defendant. He is a hesitant witness,” Donohue said. Pursuant to the law, “he was taken into custody so the court can determine to deliver him over to representatives from the demanding state, which is Pennsylvania.”
Assistant V.I. Attorney General Eric Chancellor said that “we were all trying to figure this material witness complaint out,” and he should not have been held in a correctional facility.
“That is an issue, he shouldn’t be there right now,” Chancellor said. “I do agree with the court that he should not be in BOC.”
Donohue ordered the Bureau of Corrections to release Felix to the V.I. Justice Department, which will give Felix an opportunity to confer with the Territorial Public Defender’s Office before transferring him to the custody of Pennsylvania authorities.