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Magistrate upholds defence’s no-case submission

Magistrate upholds defence’s no-case submission
Defence Lawyers Duane Daniel (left) and Ronald Marks (forefront right), exit the Mesopotamia Magistrates Court, sitting at Calliaqua, with Senator Ashelle Morgan (second from left) and Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions Karim Nelson after they were acquitted of charges yesterday.

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The court has ruled to acquit Assistant Director of Public Prosecution(DPP) Karim Nelson and Senator Ashelle Morgan for charges laid against them following an April shooting incident in Diamond.

Magistrate upholds defence’s no-case submission
Lawyer Kay Bacchus-Baptiste (centre), speaks with Cornelius John (right), and his wife Nicole John outside the court.

This decision was handed down at the Mesopotamia Magistrates Court, sitting at Calliaqua, after no case submissions were made at the end of the prosecution’s case by defense counsels Duane Daniel and Ronald Marks, representing Morgan and Nelson respectively.

The submissions, delivered on Wednesday November 17, outlined why the lawyers believed there was no case for their clients to answer.

Daniel spoke to the charge of criminal assault wherein it was alleged that his client, Morgan on April 13 in Diamond, pointed a gun in Cornelius John’s face and supposedly told him if he called her f-ing name she would shoot him in his mouth.

Marks spoke to the charges laid against Nelson for wounding and unlawful discharge of a firearm on John’s property on the date in question.

The prosecution led by St Lucia’s Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, Stephen Brette responded.

Having referred to his notes on the evidence, Magistrate Bertie Pompey returned yesterday, November 18, with his ruling.

Sitting in court were the defendants on two chairs to the right, front of the magistrate. The defence lawyers and the prosecution were settled at either ends of the bar table facing him. Counsel with the ‘watching brief’, Kay Bacchus-Baptiste, was sandwiched between the opposing sides at the bar table.

This is how the parties were seated since the start of the case last week Wednesday.

John, who has been attending court every day to listen to the evidence was seated in the courtroom, as was Morgan’s aunt, who also has been regularly at court to hear the exchanges and testimonies.

The investigating officer also was listening.

In ruling on the charge against Morgan, Pompey stated: “The issue boils down to (John’s) word against the second defendant’s(Morgan’s) word.”

Magistrate upholds defence’s no-case submission
Magistrate Bertie Pompey

He continued that he preferred the evidence of Morgan to that of John for multiple reasons which included the credibility of John compared to Morgan.

Brette rose at that point to say that Morgan had not given any evidence, to which the magistrate responded that she had denied it in a statement to the police.

“I’m just saying that there’s no evidence in this court under oath…” the prosecution said. Counsel Daniel submitted that the denial was also part of the prosecution’s case.

“Counsel you have a recourse to the Appeal court,” the magistrate informed the prosecution.

“Very well sir,” Brette stated.

The magistrate continued, “Two: (John’s) wife testified she was at the time in her porch just across the road from (her husband’s) residence and was able to see when the ‘taller man’ pushed her husband but did not see the second defendant, Ashelle took out a gun and point it in (John’s) face.”

Finally, he noted the failure of John, “to mention the assault by Morgan to the first respondents: a Rochel Franklyn and Sergeant Prescott.”

Further, that when John told the police of the incident he did not mention that Morgan cursed, but said so in court.

“The court finds that the criminal assault charge against Morgan cannot be sustained, she is therefore acquitted of criminally assaulting Cornelius John,” Pompey ruled.

In the case of Nelson, the judicial officer reasoned: “Judging from the medical report there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that (John) sustained gunshot wounds to his left leg by someone on that fateful day. The question is who is that someone?”the magistrate asked.

“Eleven witnesses testified on behalf of the crown and at no time any one of them was able to link the first defendant Karim Nelson to the offence of wounding Cornelius John.”

“Suffice to say, the burden is always on the prosecution to prove its case and to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt. There was not one iota of evidence linking the first defendant to the offence of wounding Cornelius John and discharging his firearm. I am
absolutely in doubt as to who this tall man was,” Pompey said as he dismissed the charges against Nelson.

Shortly after this ruling the court was adjourned.

It seemed that even before the magistrate ended his delivery of the verdict the prosecutor was sorting his belongings/files. No comment was solicited from the St Lucia Deputy DPP, who used his usual exit where the media has no access.

Morgan’s aunt could be heard repeating “Yes, yes, yes” after the court was adjourned. Outside the court she said “God is a good God. God is a good God.”

Asked for a comment on the court’s decision the Senator said “No thank you”.

When he left, Nelson questioned what was there to say after being dragged through the mud and his character destroyed “with lies.”

Morgan’s lawyer Duane Daniel said that “The evidence was pellucid and clear and where it was lacking, that was also evident.”

He reiterated that the allegations against his client “were unfounded, false, fabricated and malicious.”

“And I am happy that the court saw through those vicious lies aimed clearly at slandering Miss Morgan’s character, when it was her efforts to attempt to prevent any assault on Mrs John that quite possibly prevented there being a worse outcome.”

Nelson’s attorney, Ronald Marks, said, “ I think that the evidence in the matter spoke for itself and the lack of evidence also spoke volumes too as well. From the time this matter came before the courts, there’s been a lot of politics involved in the matter rather than truth and fact.”

“…Understandably so because they are being misguided by persons with political motive who are looking for some political relevance using the situation to their advantage,” he said.

Marks submitted that “This was always about domestic abuse and what I hope that we learn from this is that the police should respond more quickly when they have reports of domestic abuse. That is the genesis of this matter…”

He added, “I hope this does not deter Senator Morgan from the work that she’s doing with women in this country for assisting the underprivileged in her area.”

In response to the outcome, John said, “Being a man of God, God already told me what would be the outcome.”

He further claimed, “From the beginning I said man can get away with man in a court of law by some way or the other, but with God when you’re guilty, you’re guilty. God ha’ the final say. This battle, they might win it, but the victory belongs to Jesus.”

Prosecution witnesses called in the case were: Cornelius John, his wife Nicole John, auxiliary officer Rochel Franklyn who helped John after the shooting, the police officer who took the report, the crime scene investigator, the Sergeant who went to the scene at Diamond, the police constable who supposedly found a spent shell on the scene, the Commissioner of Police(COP) Colin John who spoke of a firearm issued to Nelson after threats were made to him, the investigator 858 Corporal Hoyte, Doctor Charles Woods and ballistics expert Station Sergeant Julian Cain.

The court also visited the alleged scene of the crime in Diamond on Wednesday.

Just before closing its case the prosecution sought to have a summons issued for one Veron Adams to appear before the court to give evidence but this was denied with the argument that it could have been done before. This name has been previously thrown around concerning someone who was apparently on the scene on the evening of April 13,2021.

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