ST. THOMAS — A Florida man was arrested Sunday after police said he held a woman hostage and brutally beat her in a room at Sapphire Beach Resort.
Devindra Jaglal was charged under the territory’s domestic violence statute with second-degree assault, false imprisonment and kidnapping, and disturbance of the peace. He was held without bond until his advice-of-rights hearing via videoconference Monday in V.I. Superior Court.
Officers were dispatched to the St. Thomas resort at around 9:34 p.m. after a witness reported a woman screaming for help, according to the probable cause fact sheet filed by V.I. Police.
When they arrived at the room, Jaglal opened the door and police had him step outside. Officers entered and found a woman who was “violently shaking” and covered in bruises, according to the fact sheet.
The woman said she and Jaglal lived together in Florida and he’d become increasingly physically abusive, and she is now afraid that he might kill her. During their brief trip to St. Thomas, Jaglal told her when they were around other people, “You better smile or I’m going to beat you up,” according to the fact sheet.
Jaglal held her in the hotel room and took her phone so she couldn’t call 911, and she screamed for help until a witness in a neighboring room called 911, according to the fact sheet.
Officers also interviewed a resort security guard who said that the previous day, Nov. 14, she passed by Jaglal and the woman and heard the woman, “say, ‘Help,’” but did not take any further action,” according to the fact sheet.
The woman was taken to Schneider Hospital where a doctor documented her injuries, which were consistent with assault, according to the fact sheet.
Jaglal declined to give a statement and was placed under arrest.
During his advice-of-rights hearing Monday, Territorial Public Defender Frederick Johnson said Jaglal was born in Trinidad and became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2016. He also has a master’s degree and is a certified public accountant in Florida.
He asked that Jaglal be released after posting $1,500 cash to secure a $15,000 bond and be allowed to return home to Florida, but Assistant V.I. Attorney General Brenda Scales said the bail should be fully secured, meaning Jaglal would have to post $15,000 cash.
“This matter is not a simple assault. This is a false imprisonment and the victim is afraid of the defendant, extremely afraid,” Scales said, noting that he had a previous domestic violence arrest in 2005 but the case was “dropped or abandoned.”
Magistrate Judge Carolyn Hermon-Percell agreed that he should post the full $15,000, and he may only be released from jail if he finds somewhere to stay on St. Thomas and surrenders his travel documents. At that point, the judge said she would consider whether to allow Jaglal to return to Florida while he awaits trial.
“He’s alleged to have committed a criminal offense in this jurisdiction. I have to ensure he will return to this jurisdiction to answer those charges whether they’re proven later or not,” Hermon-Percell said.