Captain Could Face Death Penalty for Deadly Boat Ride

Nine died because of a captain's greed and now he might have to pay the ultimate price

Jimmy Metellus barely escaped with his life after the boat he was piloting capsized miles from the Florida shore.

Now the accused human smuggler may have to pay for the failed trip with his life, a judge said Wednesday. Nine Haitian migrants died after the overloaded boat they were packed on capsized in the Atlantic Ocean, leaving everyone to fend for themselves.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Ann Vitunac told Metellus, 33, those deaths make him "potentially eligible" for the death penalty. He's charged with alien smuggling resulting in death. It's ironic because Metellus found himself in the same desperate situation as the Haitian passengers he hoped to profit from when the boat buckled under the immense wait of its human cargo.

He too was tossed into the water and left at the mercy of the waves, hoping for someone to save him. Metellus was among 16 survivors rescued last week. He told investigators a smuggler hired him to pilot the vessel to Miami from the Bahamas with about 30 migrants on board. Metellus is a Haitian citizen with permanent U.S. resident status.

Others who were rescued pointed Metellus out as the man who had ferried them across the ocean. Metellus is being held without bond until his next court date May 29.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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