Jacques rejects plea offer, testifies Norwich murder victim was his 'best friend'
Jean Yves Jacques, who is headed to trial next month in the Norwich stabbing death of Casey Chadwick, testified Wednesday at a court hearing in New London Superior Court that he did not kill anyone on June 15, 2015.
As for the 25-year-old victim, whose body was found in a closet at her 16 Spaulding St. apartment, Jacques said he knew her well.
"She was my best friend," he testified.
The cuts on his hands when he was charged with selling crack cocaine on Franklin Street a few hours after the stabbing were from a work incident, according to Jacques, who was employed as a dishwasher at The Rustic Inn.
"I put my hands in the broken plate at work," he testified.
Asked about two counterfeit $100 bills he had following the alleged drug transaction, Jacques said he was going to use it to buy a money order to send to his brother in Haiti.
Though a Haitian interpreter stood nearby, Jacques, who emigrated to the United States from the island nation in 1991, responded in English to questions posed in English by defense attorney Sebastian O. DeSantis and prosecutor David J. Smith.
Jacques, 41, wore a neon orange prison jumpsuit and leg chains on the witness stand and remained polite even during an extended cross-examination by the prosecutor.
Earlier in the day, Jacques had turned down Smith's offer to plead guilty in exchange for a 45-year prison sentence Wednesday morning before a suppression hearing got underway.
"Me and Mr. Jacques have discussed it, and he said from the very beginning that he is not guilty and is not willing to accept an offer," his attorney said.
Jacques faces up to 60 years in prison if convicted at trial.
Judge Barbara Bailey Jongbloed said jury selection would begin on March 7 and testimony would start March 29.
DeSantis claims in a "motion to suppress jailhouse snitch testimony," that Tywan Jenkins, a former prison cellmate of Jacques, should not be allowed to testify at the trial about incriminating statements made by Jacques.
DeSantis contends that Jenkins, who has more than 30 arrests to his name, was "more than likely a professional jailhouse snitch" who turned himself into a government agent by eliciting information from Jacques and offering it to police.
"Mr. Jenkins was working as an agent for the police when speaking with Mr. Jacques and therefore should not testify, as Mr. Jacques was not given an opportunity to have counsel present which violated his state and federal right not to incriminate himself," the motion said.
On the witness stand, Jacques testified that Jenkins sounded like a police officer, saying "Talk to me. Talk to me," and that he didn't trust him.
DeSantis also is seeking to suppress a statement Jacques gave at the Norwich Police Department after being charged with murder.
DeSantis contends that Jacques, who already had an attorney in a pending case, did not have the required legal representation when he gave the statement and did not knowingly waive his right to remain silent.
On the witness stand Wednesday, Jacque admitted he previously had written to Norwich police Detective Anthony Gomes to say he wanted to discuss the murder.
Also, DeSantis claims police conducted an illegal search of Jacques' apartment at 5 Crossway St., Norwich, on the day of Chadwick's death and arrested him on drug possession charges.
The victim's parents, stepmother and a close friend were in court for the proceeding, as was attorney Chester W. Fairlie, a longtime leader in the local chapter of Survivors of Homicide who is helping Chadwick's family with an effort to reform immigration policy.
Jacques had been convicted of attempted murder in 1997 and sentenced to 16 years in prison.
He was on parole when he was charged with killing Chadwick, and her survivors were outraged to learn that he had not been deported to Haiti, despite being turned over twice to immigration officials.
The judge said she would accept briefs on the suppression motions from both attorneys before issuing a ruling.
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