Prosecute Veron In SVG, Then Bring Him To New York To Answer Charges

It was disheartening to learn that Veron Primus — an ex-con accused of murdering a 16-year-old honor student named Chanel Petro-Nixon in Brooklyn back in 2006 — managed to escape prison on his home island of St. Vincent and Grenadines this week.

He was back in custody within a few hours. But Primus, who has been behind bars awaiting trial since 2016, has been evading justice for more than a decade, a fact that should embarrass officials in Brooklyn and St. Vincent and spur them into action.

Back on June 22, 2006, the strangled body of Chanel Petro-Nixon was discovered in a trash bag in front of 212 Kingston Ave. in Crown Heights. She’d vanished four days earlier, on a day she was supposed to apply for a job at an Applebee’s restaurant not far from her home in Bedford-Stuyvesant.

Chanel was also supposed to meet up on that day with Primus, a former classmate. Police interviewed him, but could neither charge nor clear him.

Chanel’s friends, family and neighbors spent the next decade trying to find her killer.
The Rev. Al Sharpton and I made separate appearances on “America’s Most Wanted,” asking for help from the public. The Rev. Taharka Robinson counseled Chanel’s heartbroken parents, Gavin Petro and Lucita Nixon, and led an annual community march and rally to remind Brooklynites of the facts of the case.

Cops in the 77th Precinct held charity events to raise money for a reward fund, and NYPD detectives never stopped looking for clues. Brooklyn District Attorney Joe Hynes and his successor, Ken Thompson, both stayed on the case.

During the years we were searching for Chanel’s killer, Primus was busy screwing up his life. In 2012, he was charged with rape in two separate cases. He beat the top charge, but got convicted of burglary and contempt and was sentenced to two-to-four years in prison; upon making parole in 2015, Primus was released to immigration authorities and deported to St. Vincent.

It’s worth noting here that America’s policy of deporting countless thousands of formerly incarcerated people like Primus to Caribbean islands is a disaster. These tiny nations — St. Vincent and Grenadines has only 110,000 people — lack the capacity to police, rehabilitate or prosecute hardened alumni of the American prison system.

In November of 2015, a real estate agent named Sharleen Greaves was found stabbed to death at her office. A few months later, in April 2016, island police charged Primus with her murder. He was also charged with imprisoning a girlfriend named Mewanah Hadaway in his home for four months, threatening to kill her if she left.

New York authorities, alerted about Primus’s arrest, sent investigators to the Caribbean and reportedly discovered that Primus had kept newspaper clippings about Chanel’s killing — and even showed them to the woman he threatened and imprisoned.

That and other evidence led then-Brooklyn D.A. Ken Thompson to indict Primus for Chanel’s murder.

Unfortunately, the last four years have been a sad comedy of errors. The wheels of justice appear to turn at a snail’s pace on St. Vincent, where Primus was first brought to a preliminary inquiry, representing himself without a lawyer through a long string of postponements and adjournments.

In 2017, Primus’ murder case was finally forwarded for a jury trial before the High Court of Justice, which handles major cases in the Eastern Caribbean.

But more than two years later, the trial hasn’t happened. U.S. officials should be asking Dame Janice Pereira, chief justice of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, what the holdup seems to be.

Ralph Gonsalves, the prime minister of St. Vincent, should get some inquiries, too. I nominate Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, in whose district Chanel lived, and Rep. Yvette Clarke, who co-chairs the Caribbean Caucus.

And after the case in St. Vincent case is resolved, Primus should be extradited to New York to finally answer for the murder of Chanel Petro-Nixon.

By Louis a political anchor of NY1 News.