A Superior Court Judge on Monday found probable cause for the arrest of a St. Thomas man charged in connection with intoxicating a woman with marijuana.
The charge was the subject of an intense debate in court Monday.
Job Nicholas, 46, of Smith Bay, was arrested Friday and charged with second-degree assault, and “administration of a narcotic with intent to commit a felony,” after police said he mixed edible marijuana into a victim’s drink without consent.
Nicholas was charged under the territory’s domestic violence law, and was held in jail without bail over the weekend until his advice of rights hearing via teleconference Monday.
It was up to Magistrate Judge Henry Carr to decide whether there was probable cause to sustain the charges, and V.I. Assistant Attorney General Brenda Scales and public defender Paula Norkaitis argued strenuously over whether Nicholas had been properly charged with a crime.
According to a probable cause fact sheet filed by V.I. Police, the victim was hospitalized Thursday after drinking a smoothie Nicholas had brought her. An emergency room doctor said toxicology tests “revealed THC poisoning,” and the victim needed to be monitored until her heart rate returned to normal.
Scales pointed out that the victim told police that she and Nicholas had tried edible marijuana together once before and she had a bad reaction, so he was well aware of the effect the substance had on her. According to the fact sheet, Nicholas had even brought the victim to the hospital after that experience, and she had not tried edible marijuana since.
Nicholas dropped off two smoothies to the victim on Wednesday night and left them in her refrigerator, according to the fact sheet. The victim told police she didn’t drink the smoothie until the next morning, and she called Nicholas when her heart started racing and she became drowsy and lightheaded.
Nicholas admitted to putting marijuana in the smoothie, went to her home, took the other smoothie out of the refrigerator and drank it, telling the victim “I’m going to be on your level now,” according to the fact sheet.
The woman told police she “felt threatened and scared,” so she went for a walk, and managed to lock Nicholas outside her home when she returned and called 911.
The victim said Nicholas had taken the cups with him before he left, and while he acknowledged bringing the homemade smoothies to the victim, “Nicholas never admitted to adding weed to the smoothie,” according to the fact sheet.
Norkaitis argued that the incident should be considered a civil matter, and Nicholas had not violated any Virgin Islands laws.
“Do we have a poison, and is there intent?” Carr asked.
“Marijuana is not a poison,” Norkaitis argued.
Scales said that peanut butter, for example, is not a poison — unless someone is severely allergic to it, and the same concept should be applied because Nicholas knew the victim had a bad reaction to marijuana in the past and “for her, this was a poison.”
“It’s a close case,” Carr said. “I’m having problems with this one. I really am. Because it ain’t right what happened. But is it criminal?”
Carr initially found no probable cause to support either charge, and said marijuana is not classified as a narcotic controlled substance under Virgin Islands law.
But after hearing from a police officer who testified that the victim was “frightened until he left her house,” Carr changed his mind.
“There’s not the best case in the world, but I think there would be sufficient probable cause at this particular stage to find with respect to this complaining witness,” Carr said. “So, the court reverses itself and does in fact find sufficient probable cause to support the defendant’s arrest.”
Carr scheduled arraignment for May 21 and allowed Nicholas to be released on an unsecured bond, finding that he does not pose a risk of flight or danger to the community.