Jul 31, 2022 News
==The Court Journal==
By Renay Sambach
Kaieteur News – As the title suggests, today I will highlight matters in which persons were acquitted. They were behind bars for many years, some might have thought that they would have remained there for the rest of their lives but they were set free in the end.
While the judge distinguishes the law, the jurors are the judge of the facts of the offence. When an accused pleads not guilty to a charge, it is then up to the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty of the crime.
Based on the evidence that the prosecution presents to the court, the jurors will then deliberate.
In some cases, the jury returns with a guilty or not guilty verdict, there are also cases where the jury is unable to agree on a verdict by the required voting margin, this is called a ‘hung jury’.
Highlighted today are matters in which the jury found the accused not guilty and when the judge up-held a no-case submission and ordered the jury to return a formal verdict of not guilty.
Recently, Neville Forte was the second person who was acquitted of the May 5, 2017 murder of Sophia bread vendor, Andre Alexander.
Forte was freed after the jury returned with a not guilty verdict. He was on trial before Justice Jo Ann Barlow in the Demerara High Court. Following a two-hour long deliberation, the jury returned with a unanimous not guilty verdict, and Forte was a free man.
He had denied that on May 5, 2017, in the County of Demerara, that he murdered 42-year-old Alexander in the course or furtherance of a robbery.
According to reports, Alexander was shot and killed by two men on a motorcycle. Alexander of Lot 394 ‘C’ Field Sophia, died during surgery. He was attacked by two men at his bread stand which is situated about four doors from his home.
The police had reported that two men rode up on a motorcycle and the pillion rider requested three loaves of bread. He then paid with a $5000 note. However, while Alexander was in the process of making change, the ‘customer’ then whipped out a gun and demanded cash.
When Alexander put up a fight, the robber discharged two rounds, one of which struck him in the abdomen. The two men then relieved him of his cash and escaped with three loaves of bread.
In June 2019, a 12-member jury was ordered by Justice Navindra Singh, to return a formal verdict of not guilty for Shaquille Grant – Forte’s alleged co-accused.
Justice Singh had ordered the not guilty verdict after he up-held a no-case submission that was made on behalf of Grant by his lawyer.
Raymond JonesEarlier this month, 58-year-old Raymond Jones of Micobie Village, Potaro, Region Eight was freed after spending nine years on remand for allegedly killing a man.
In relation to Jones’ case, the Chambers of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) had issued a statement saying that Jones was never indicted.
On Friday, July 15, Jones was freed by Justice Sandil Kissoon in the Demerara High Court. Jones was a free man after Justice Kissoon found that his constitutional right to a free trial within a reasonable time was breached by the State.
Jones was accused of shooting Gary Joseph fatally with an ‘arrow and bow’ on December 26, 2012, at Micobie Village.
He was charged and committed to stand trial in 2014 following a preliminary inquiry (PI) at the Magistracy level. In 2015, when the Director of Public Prosecutions, Shalimar Ali-Hack, SC, received the depositions in the case, she remitted the matter back to the magistrate to correct ‘irregularities’.
The DPP Chambers in its statement noted that additional evidence was requested in 2015, October 2020 and in January 2021 but that evidence was not provided, and resulted in the DPP not being able to prefer an indictment. An indictment is a formal, written accusation of a crime that is presented to a court for the prosecution of an accused.
Lennox Wayne aka ‘Two Colours’
In another case, after spending eight years behind bars and going through three trials for the murder of Lusignan cosmetologist, Ashmini Harriram, Lennox Wayne called ‘Two Colours’ was in June 2022 freed of the offence.
The trial was conducted in the Demerara High Court before Justice Barlow. At Wayne’s third retrial, he once again denied that he murdered Harriram on July 10, 2014.
The matter then went to trial and at the end, the jury returned with a unanimously not guilty verdict. As such, Justice Barlow freed Wayne of the 2014 crime.
Notably, Wayne’s previous trials for the murder both ended in hung juries.
According to reports, the 19-year-old cosmetologist of Lusignan, East Coast Demerara (ECD), was shot and killed on July 10, 2014. Harriram was shot in the neck moments after she disembarked a minibus along the Lusignan Railway Embankment, ECD.
The shooter reportedly emerged from a burgundy motorcar, PRR 8370, which was parked along the said road. It was reported that one Melroy Doris, who pleaded guilty to the lesser count of manslaughter, was in fact the shooter.
Levoy La Cruz
Also, in February last, Pomeroon resident Levoy La Cruz, who was accused of the stabbing death of Rafael Danns, was acquitted of the murder charge.
La Cruz was accused of unlawfully killing Danns called ‘Singh,’ 21, a miner of Grant Anna Regina, Lower Pomeroon River, on September 8, 2014.
Following hours of deliberations, the jury in the case returned with a unanimous verdict finding La Cruz not guilty of manslaughter.
This matter was heard in the Suddie High Court before Justice Barlow.
According to reports, Danns and La Cruz were drinking when an argument erupted and escalated into a fight during which Danns was stabbed in the chest.
In February 2021, Stafrei Alexander, who was on trial for murdering his accomplice, Terrence Thomas, in 2015, following their escape from police custody, was acquitted from the crime by the jury.
Alexander, a former resident of Laing Avenue, West Ruimveldt, was arraigned before Justice Brassington Reynolds for the capital offence.
He had denied that between December 8 and 11, 2015, at Linden, he murdered Thomas.
According to reports, Alexander and Thomas were jointly charged for the murder of Linden businesswoman, Shevon Gordon, who was gunned down outside of her house on April 4, 2015 at One Mile Block 22, Wismar, Linden.
On December 8, 2015, Alexander and Thomas escaped from the Mackenzie Police Station, where they were in holding to attend court. However, three days later Thomas’ decomposing body was found in the Demerara River in the vicinity of West Watooka, Linden.
It was in October 2020 when Desmond James was freed of a murder charge after Justice Singh in the Demerara High Court, up-held a no-case submission and ordered the Jury to return a formal not guilty verdict.
James was charged for the murder of Glendon Cox, a father of two, at Four Miles Arakaka, North West District (NWD). He was accused of stabbing the 46-year-old Cox to death on September 1, 2014.
The final matter I will highlight is that of Rudolph Singh who in November 2017 was acquitted of the July 12, 2013 murder of Kevin Harrison. Harrison was stabbed to death at Ideal Road, Soesdyke, East Bank Demerara.
Singh was on trial before Justice Simone Morris-Ramlall in the Demerara High Court.
Following hours of deliberation, the jury arrived at a unanimous verdict for the capital offence of murder and also for the lesser count of manslaughter.
It was reported that Harrison was outside the Ideal Road, Soesdyke, East Bank Demerara home of his girlfriend, Omefa Atkinson, who is also the mother of Singh’s children.
It was stated that the woman had gone to live with Harrison after he had returned from the interior a few days prior.
According to reports, the woman, who was accompanied by Harrison, returned
to her home to pick up her two children – ages seven and four – when an argument had reportedly started between the two men which later escalated into a fight, during which Harrison was wounded.
The injured man was rushed to the hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
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