New London murder suspect arraigned

Keith Ramel Delavalle appears before Judge Kevin McMahon Tuesday, May 6, 2014 on charges stemming from the August 2013 murder of Jesus "Gee" Pinero.
Sean D. Elliot/The Day Keith Ramel Delavalle appears before Judge Kevin McMahon Tuesday, May 6, 2014 on charges stemming from the August 2013 murder of Jesus "Gee" Pinero.

Twenty-eight-year-old Keith Ramel Delvalle, who has a previous firearms conviction, was arraigned Tuesday in New London Superior Court for the Aug. 29 shooting death in New London of Jesus “Gee” Pinero.

“This was sort of a Wild West shootout on the New London streets,” said Judge Kevin P. McMahon when Delvalle, who is 5 feet, 3 inches tall and weighs 130 pounds, was presented before him.

Pinero, 29, the father of a 4-year-old boy, died of multiple gunshot wounds to the torso and extremities after being shot near Connecticut Avenue and Prest Street. Local residents said they heard multiple gunshots, and New London police found two handguns at the scene after the shooting, according to testimony in court.

Delvalle, who was arrested in the Bronx in February and returned to Connecticut on Monday on the strength of a governor’s warrant, is charged with murder, criminal possession of a firearm, carrying a pistol without a permit, unlawful discharge of a firearm, criminal use of a firearm and commission of a Class A felony with a firearm.

During a bond argument, Bail Commissioner Timothy Gilman said Delvalle had lived in the Groton area before the shooting and has no family in the area. Delvalle was convicted in New York in 2004 of possession of a loaded firearm and also has been convicted on narcotics charges, according to Gilman, who recommended keeping Delvalle’s bond at $2 million, an amount that was set by Judge Barbara Bailey Jongbloed when she signed the warrant for his arrest.

Prosecutor Rafael Bustamante also argued for a high bond, noting that Delvalle is facing a substantial prison sentence if convicted and has been “fingered by witnesses” to the shooting. The judge set Delvalle’s bond at $49,999 cash and transferred the case to the so-called Part A court on Huntington Street where major crimes are tried.

McMahon often uses a cash bond rather than a nonsurety bond. He has said that it is more difficult for a defendant to come up with the full amount in cash than to raise the small percentage of the total nonsurety bond amount that a bondsman would require.

Court documents detailing the state’s case against Delvalle have been sealed from the public for two weeks but were available to court officials who participated in the arraignment. Supervisory Public Defender Sean Kelly noted that two guns were found at the scene, one of which was traced to 33-year-old Lance J. Brown of Uncasville.

New London police had identified Brown through DNA found on the gun, a Glock pistol, and charged him in December with criminal possession of a firearm, carrying a pistol without a permit, first-degree reckless endangerment and illegal discharge of a firearm. He is free on $200,000 bond and his case is pending, according to court records. Police have said they believe Brown was returning fire at Delvalle.

There was no DNA evidence linking the other gun — a .25-caliber pistol found on the ground nearby — to Delvalle, according to Kelly.

Pinero, whose last known address was in Norwich, had convictions for possession of narcotics with intent to sell, interfering with an officer, motor vehicle violations, second-degree assault and third-degree assault.

After his death, friends said he had been the intended target of another shooting, on June 11 outside Universal Food Store at Hodges Square in New London. Pinero was talking to a woman and her 6-year-old son when a man started shooting. Pinero and the woman fled to safety.

Delvalle’s next court date is Thursday.

k.florin@theday.com

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