ST. THOMAS — Electrician Darren O. Hodge violated a restraining order when he fired his gun next to a woman’s head and choked her 9-year-old daughter as she tried to protect her mother, according to documents and testimony in V.I. Superior Court.
Shortly after she arrived at her Fortuna home around 10 p.m. Tuesday, the victim saw Hodge “coming out of the bushes,” according to an affidavit filed by V.I. Police.
The woman had previously obtained a restraining order barring Hodge, 41, from coming within 100 feet of her, which he had been served with on Nov. 23.
Approaching, Hodge asked to hug the child, according to the affidavit. The woman initially refused, but relented when her daughter asked to hug Hodge, but she objected again when Hodge attempted to place one of his gold chains around the child’s neck.
Telling Hodge to leave, the victim called 911. But, Hodge became agitated, demanding that she let him inside so he could see who else was in her home, according to the affidavit. He began arguing and “pushed her to the ground,” at which point the child jumped on him to try to pull Hodge off her mother.
The woman screamed for help as first Hodge pointed his gun at her abdomen, and then he “put the gun to her right ear... and she heard ‘pow,’ ” according to the affidavit. As Hodge fled, the victim got up and checked her daughter before realizing she had blood coming from her ear.
The child told police that when she jumped on Hodge, he “grabbed her by the neck and was choking her until her head began to hurt.”
The child said she saw Hodge strike her mother in the head, and saw him take “a gun from his waist and had it to her mother’s head when she heard the gun went off.”
Hodge surrendered to police Wednesday and was held without bail until his advice-of-rights hearing Friday, per the territory’s domestic violence laws.
At the hearing, Territorial Public Defender Frederick Johnson said he was trying to understand “what the injury actually was,” and Assistant V.I. Attorney General Brenda Scales clarified that Hodge did not shoot the victim, but fired the gun so close to her head that it burst her eardrum.
Johnson challenged the charge of attempted first-degree murder, arguing that “there’s a major difference between shooting someone in the head and discharging a gun right next to their ear. ”
“She had to obtain a restraining order,” Scales countered. “He has violated that restraining order several times and then came to the house with a gun, with a loaded weapon.”
“I’m not saying he did not intend to hurt her,” Johnson said. “What I’m saying is, he did not try to kill her.”
“Attorney Johnson, I respect your argument. But I am going to find at this particular stage attempted first-degree murder,” said Magistrate Judge Henry Carr III.
Carr upheld several charges of domestic violence, including attempted first-degree murder, second-degree assault, third-degree assault, unauthorized possession of a firearm during a crime of violence, discharge of a firearm, and contempt of court.
“I did not attempt to kill anyone,” Hodge protested.
Scales asked for $100,000 bail citing Hodge’s 2019 arrest and conviction for an incident in which he led police on a high-speed chase, and said he was charged with assault in January 2020 but that case was dismissed.
Johnson protested the amount will “ensure he’s going to remain in jail.”
Carr set bail at $100,000 cash.