Florida Keys News - Key West Citizen
Saturday, July 27, 2013
Inmate likely to stay jailed

A man serving more than 20 years in prison for bank robbery and attempted murder will likely remain there despite appeals based on his mental competency.

Charlain St. Charles was sentenced in 2011 to 15 years for attempted second-degree murder after trying to throw a female corrections officer over a second-floor railing at the Stock Island jail.

That incident occurred while St. Charles was there awaiting trial for the July 2011 robbery of the Keys Federal Credit Union branch office in the Overseas Market shopping center in Key West.

St. Charles was subsequently sentenced to seven years in prison in February 2012 in the separate robbery case.

He represented himself in both bench trials, which means there was no jury and the judge made the ruling. The 3rd District Court of Appeal on Wednesday affirmed Circuit Judge Mark Jones' 15-year sentence in the attempted murder case, but ruled the court erred in not issuing a written order regarding St. Charles' mental ability to stand trial.

"The appeal had to do with issues of his competency and whether he was able to represent himself," said Assistant State Attorney Christine Poist. "The court (Jones) found him able to proceed, but didn't issue a written order. The appellate court ruled that everything procedurally is fine, they're just requesting the order."

It is essentially a piece of administrative legal-house cleaning, as it doesn't amount to a new trial, but it draws attention back to the strange case of St. Charles and how his case snagged another high-profile inmate.

When St. Charles tried to toss the corrections officer over the railing, convicted murderer Jonathan LeBaron heard the ruckus and tried to help the officer by yelling from his cell for St. Charles to stop and by pressing his cell call button for help, said Poist.

LeBaron later reached out to prosecutors to testify against St. Charles in an effort to avoid death row, but then decided not to, Poist said.

A jury voted 11-1 on May 5 that LeBaron be sentenced to death in the 2009 Stock Island slaying of Richard Gardner aboard his boat Flo-to-Me at Oceanside Marina.

Jones will make the final decision on LeBaron on Aug. 12. LeBaron remains at the Stock Island jail under no bail.

alinhardt@keysnews.com

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