Published On: Thu, Mar 10th, 2022

Appeals court confirms life sentence for serial killer Kathron Fortune

PHILIPSBURG — Serial killer Kathron Fortune won’t see the outside of a prison for a very long time (and most likely never), after the Common Court of Justice sentence the 45-year old on appeal to a life sentence for killing Luis Sarante Diaz and Edwin Rosario Contreras in a hotel room at the Simpson Bay Resort on December 5, 2016.

The Court in First Instance initially sentence Fortune to life imprisonment in a ruling on June 5, 2019. The defendant appealed the verdict.

The appeals court notes in its verdict that Fortune has shown no regrets for his actions and that he is “an unacceptable serious danger to society,” while it sees no perspective for improved behavior.

Fortune has a bad record in St. Maarten. In 2005 he killed Aruban Ervin Margerita in Rice Hill Estate during a rip deal. For this killing, he was serving a 21-year sentence. He is currently detained in the Netherlands.

On May 24, 2006, 30-year old Frenchwoman Angélique Chauviré went missing from Grand Case. Her body was found on June 2. She was brutally raped and murdered. On October 2020, the court in Basse-Terre (Guadeloupe) sentenced Fortune to 30 years for this horrific crime. The Netherlands refused to extradite him for this trial, because it considers Fortune to be extremely dangerous.

In the meantime, on February 15, 2016, Fortune managed to escape during a visit to the clinic of Dr. Paul de Windt in Cay Hill. It took until July 29, 2017, before the police of St. Kitts managed to arrest him when he attempted to enter their country. On August 4, he was back in the prison in St. Maarten.

Fortune committed his crime against Sarante Diaz and Contreras while he was on the lam.

According to the court ruling, the double homicide resulted from a rip deal gone wrong. The victims apparently wanted to buy drugs from Fortune in exchange for jewelry they had stolen elsewhere earlier.

Fortune beat both young men to death with the butt of a handgun, cleaned the hotel room in an attempt to get rid of evidence and dumped the two bodies in the Belair Lagoon. Investigators and members of the Royal Dutch Navy recovered the remains of the victims on August 1, 2017, after the owner of the van that was used to transport the bodies saw a picture of his vehicle in the media and decided to report to the police.

The 49-page verdict of the appeals court contains detailed findings of the forensic investigation, DNA-research and a report about the contents of video footage from surveillance cameras in and around the resort.

The NFI’s forensic investigation showed that the remains found at the Belair Lagoon belonged to the two victims. Chances that the remains belonged to random other persons varied from 1 on 11 million to 1 on 1 billion. The NFI estimated the ages of the remains at between 17 and 30 and 17 and 24 years of age. Sarante Diaz and Rosario Contreras were both 23 years of age.

Fortune engaged the help of his brother Tito (now around 32) and his girlfriend Kalaika Simmons (now around 36) in his scheme at the Simpson Bay Resort. Tito Fortune was sentenced to 30 years by the Court in First Instance in 2019 and Simmons received an 8-year sentence.

From the verdict it is unclear whether Sarante Diaz or Rosario Contreras was the first one to enter the hotel room where Fortune was waiting for them on that fatal day in December 2016, because all names have been removed from the text.

It is however certain that Fortune was heavily armed: he had a Bushmaster rifle, an AK-47 and two other lighter handguns at his disposal. Fortune immediately asked the first victim to hand over either drugs or money. When the answer was “I don’t know” he beat the young man with the butt of a hand gun so severely on his head that he died on the spot. He then asked his brother to lure the second man into the hotel room; he received a similar treatment.

Attempts to lure the first victim’s girlfriend also into the deathtrap failed, because the girl smelled a rat, fled the scene and alarmed the police about her missing boyfriend.

The stolen jewelry the first victim brought to the party has never been recovered.

After the killings, Fortune, nicknamed Cuchi, started cleaning the room and the bathroom in an attempt to eradicate evidence. He did not make a very good job of it because forensic investigators later found plenty of trace evidence on the murder-scene.

Fortune told the court that all he wanted to do was sell 18 kilos of cocaine to his visitors, bur the court considered that claim as implausible.

The ruling states that the standard punishment for murder by first offenders is 18 years and for manslaughter 16 years. Cuchi of course, was not exactly a first offender and the court saw sufficient reason to follow the prosecution’s demand for a life sentence, pointing to Fortune’s complete lack of respect for other people’s life. A psychiatric report found that the risk that Fortune will commit similar crimes in the future as high.

“A life sentence literally lasts for life,” the court furthermore points out in its ruling. After serving 25 years, by which time Fortune will be 70, he is entitled to a first review of his sentence. It is then up to the court to decide whether further incarceration is still warranted or that the defendant is fit for conditional early release. After that first review, Fortune is entitled to a sentence-review every five years.

The court ordered Fortune’s detention to prevent that he becomes a free man again while his sentence is not yet irrevocable.