A U.S. law enforcement agent’s murder trial opened Monday with defense lawyers challenging the credibility of the key witness – the slain man’s girlfriend – and prosecutors accusing him of using excessive force when he intervened in a domestic dispute.

Federal authorities, who conducted their own investigation and determined the shooting was justified, said they are monitoring the highly politicized trial closely and warned that if William Clark, of Rochester, New York, is convicted, it could have a chilling effect on how their agents respond to crime in the U.S. Caribbean territory.

Clark, a 35-year-old agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, sat quietly as the judge read the charges stemming from the September 2008 killing of his neighbor Marcus Sukow in St. Thomas.

Clark has pleaded not guilty to four counts including second-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter.
“No one is above the law in the U.S. Virgin Islands,” prosecutor Claude Walker said.

In opening arguments, Walker told jurors that on the day of the shooting, Sukow talked about marriage to his girlfriend, Marguerite Duncan, over brunch at an Irish Pub. She said she was not interested.

The couple returned to the apartment complex and, according to police records, an enraged Sukow threatened to retrieve a gun from his apartment and blow off her head.

As he went to the apartment, defense lawyers say, Duncan asked Clark for help and got inside his car.

Source: Danica Coto for the Associated Press via

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