The One Where the Defendant is Already Serving a Life Sentence
One of the more confusing cases that I have studied and coded in my time with tPP is the ‘Fleurinord’ group case, which I completed with my partner earlier this semester. This particular case includes three defendants: Hitler Fleurinord, Billy Alexander, and Glossy Bruce Joseph. All three men were hired by an individual to assassinate two prominent Haitian broadcasters – Fritz d’Or and Jean Claude Olivier – on account of their political views. Joseph served as a lookout, Fleurinord was the driver, and Alexander acted as the hit man. For more information on the details of this case, click here. There are two notable caveats to this case. First, the individual who ordered and paid the men to carry out the assassination is not named in any documents related to the case nor is he included within our dataset. The second catch is that Billy Alexander, at the time of his indictment, was already serving a life sentence for a different crime, and court documents relating to the charges in the ‘Fleurinord’ case could not be found. Below, I will outline how we handled the inclusion and coding for this case given these two caveats.
The first issue that appeared when coding this case was inclusion. The three men listed in this case were each paid by an unidentified individual to assassinate the radio broadcasters. When discussing inclusion, my partner and I were unsure whether Fleurinord, Alexander, and Joseph could be included based on inclusion criteria D – is the crime in furtherance of terrorism, extremism, or political violence, or in furtherance of the sustainability or advancement of the extremist/terrorist organization, HVE network, or extremist movement? Initially, we argued that the three men would be excluded based on this criteria; however, when discussing the matter with a more senior tPP member, we concluded that the assassination was in furtherance of political violence, despite the apparent lack of individual motivation by the defendants. An eyewitness told police that Alexander was paid in cash to complete the assassinations; however, no one has ever been charged with ordering the hits. This is peculiar given the obvious murder for hire aspect of this politically motivated crime. Our research of this case did not reveal any detailed information regarding the individual who paid the defendants, and charges were never delivered to an alleged contractor, but the case was ultimately included – nonetheless – based on the underlying motivation for the completion of the crime.
The second issue we faced with this case was that at the time of being charged for the assassination of broadcasters d’Or and Olivier, defendant Billy Alexander was already serving a life term for a botched home invasion robbery that left a man dead. For more on Alexander’s preceding conviction and the problematic inclusion of the case see this article by Luisa Yanez. For more on the details of the former Fort Lauderdale case involving Alexander see this article by Ardy Friedberg. Because of Alexander’s conviction and sentencing in the Fort Lauderdale case, the only additional punishment he could have possibly faced following his indictment in the Little Haiti assassinations would be the death penalty. Information regarding the outcome of his trial for the assassinations was not available, so coding the ‘Length of prison sentence’ variable was difficult. With the help of Professor Loadenthal, we decided to code this variable as a life sentence, because Alexander would be serving that term regardless of the outcome of a new sentencing. As aforementioned, the only potential addition which may have occurred from his trial for the d’Or and Olivier assassinations would have been capital punishment, and from news sources, adding a concurrent sentence to Alexander’s life sentence did not seem to be in question during his trial.
With the caveats in the ‘Fleurinord’ group case, tPP’s inclusion criteria was tested, as well as exceptions to our typical coding process. In addition to the anomalies in this case, I experienced the general difficulty of coding a dated case. Because the ‘Fleurinord’ case occurred in 1991, finding information, news articles, and court documents was problematic. I tend to stray away from coding older cases, as availability is a common blockade in studying these cases, and the ‘Fleurinord’ case was certainly no exception; however, this case advanced my own interest in murder for hire cases, and ultimately expanded the range our dataset.
Friedberg, Ardy. “ROBBERY- GANG LEADER CHARGED WITH SLAYING.” Sun Sentinel. Accessed March 29, 2020. https://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/fl-xpm-1991-05-25-9102280358-story.html.
Testa, Karen. “Man Charged With Murder in Slaying of Pro-Democracy Broadcasters.” AP NEWS, November 18, 1994. https://apnews.com/fd2c5984d5b9c4c76a060d5d71a4c9b6.
Yanez, Luisa. “CHARGES FILED IN 1991 SLAYINGS.” Sun Sentinel. Accessed March 29, 2020. https://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/fl-xpm-1994-11-19-9411190123-story.html.