James “Jimmy” Malfetti
ST. THOMAS — Jury selection in the murder trial of a St. Thomas man accused in the fatal stabbing of James Malfetti is scheduled to begin Nov. 17, and the judge has ordered Mekel Blash to submit to DNA testing, according to the attorney for the victim’s family.
Superior Court Judge Kathleen Mackay set the trial date while still considering legal arguments as to whether Blash should be granted pre trial release. Blash is accused of fatally stabbing Malfetti, 41, during a break-in at internet entrepreneur Malfetti’s rented apartment on the south shore of St. John in January 2014.
Blash was arrested by police in March and charged with first degree murder, first and third degree assault, burglary and grand larceny. The defendant is currently being held on $500,000 bail.
Mackay has taken more than six weeks to consider a request by Blash’s lawyer to allow him to live and work outside of the St. Thomas Criminal Justice Complex.
First degree murder is the only charge a defendant can be accused of which allows them to be held in jail until trial. But a judge can also fashion terms for a pre-trial release in some cases where a defendant may be given a measure of freedom.
Conditions for pre-trial release may include imposition of a curfew or house arrest with electronic monitoring.
If convicted of the most serious charge – first degree murder – Blash faces life in prison without parole.