Sweet 16 shooting: State Attorney seeking death penalty against Rijkard Emmanuel Jean Baptiste

RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. -- Palm Beach County State Attorney Peter Antonacci is seeking the death penalty against the man charged in the murders of two teenagers during a Sept. 1 Sweet 16 party in a Riviera Beach banquet room.

This week's court filing follows a county grand jury's indictment of Rijkard Emmanuel Jean Baptiste, 20, of the 300 block of Eighth Street in Lake Park. He is charged with seven felonies, including one capital offense of first-degree murder with a firearm.

Killed in the violence at Newcomb Hall — allegedly involving a late night clash between groups of black and Haitian males — were Antonio Marvin Hinds, 17, and Andy Joseph, 16. Six others at the party, including Jean Baptiste, were shot but survived.

After the incident, Jean Baptiste was treated for three days at St. Mary's Medical Center for a single gunshot wound to his leg, according to police.

Antonacci declined comment Thursday about the death penalty prosecution, according to a spokeswoman. Allen Geesey, the attorney for Jean Baptiste, was out of town Thursday and unavailable to comment, according to his office in West Palm Beach.

Public Defender Carey Haughwout, whose office was notified about the death penalty filing according to court records, also could not be reached Thursday despite a call to her office.

Jean Baptiste has been held without bail at the Palm Beach County Jail since his Sept. 5 arrest. The grand jury issued its indictment Sept. 27.

The first-degree murder charge is for the shooting death of Hinds, described as a premeditated killing. According to an arrest report, Jean Baptiste told police he carried a .45-caliber semiautomatic handgun into the reception hall, 180 E. 13th Street, at the city marina.

"Jean Baptiste explained that black Americans do not like Haitian Americans, therefore he carried a gun to the party in case there was an altercation after the party," according to the report.

Jean Baptist told detectives that he fired his pistol twice after he had been shot first, but police determined their were "numerous inconsistencies" with his account.

The police report also states that a .40-caliber firearm was recovered from the scene along with multiple shell casings from both weapons.

Jean Baptiste was charged with one count of second-degree felony murder with a firearm. The indictment states that Hinds, before his death, killed Joseph, but Jean-Baptiste had also fired his gun and struck Joseph.

Jean Baptiste also faces five charges of attempted second-degree murder with a firearm. The grand jury determined Jean Baptiste fired his gun into a crowded room, striking Keyon Alderman, Fednel David, Jashua Chenet, Slater Tito Griffin and Tommy Monday. Their ages were not listed.

At least some of the crime was captured on video and later examined by police.

Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Jeffrey Colbath on Tuesday signed an order for police to return a computer and camera equipment to Sean Shapiro, who was a videographer hired to film a band performance.

But party photographer Alan Luby said he is out of work while he waits for police to return two cameras and computers that were seized after the shootings.

"I need my stuff," Luby told the Sun Sentinel Thursday. "I didn't do anything wrong."


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