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Judge orders retrial in Police murder case

Judge orders retrial in Police murder case

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The prosecution will have another shot at proving Police Constable 324 Erickson Harris guilty at the next sitting of the Criminal Assizes, as a 12 member mixed jury in the double murder matter could not arrive at a verdict on both counts on Tuesday at the High Court.{{more}}

After three hours and 15 minutes of deliberation, the jury returned with nine guilty verdicts to three not guilty on both counts. Harris is charged with the murders of Vonley Llewellyn and Jennine Gill on December 15, 2005, at Villa/Fountain Road.

The jury foreman indicated that they had a difficult time agreeing on some of the evidence. He said some persons did not agree about what really was the truth and there is where they were divided. As a result, Justice Gertel Thom ordered Harris to be remanded in custody for a re-trial at the next assizes.

During the summation of the case on Monday, an animated Defense Counsel Arthur Williams, who was almost drenched with sweat, submitted that the entire alleged confession was a “set-up” by Station Sergeant Trevor Bailey and the officers. He also noted that if Harris did indeed confess to the crime, why didn’t they arrest him at that same time? Williams went on to say that the prosecution failed to make out a case against his client and that the jury should have no difficulty of returning a not guilty verdict. Williams stressed the point that Harris was forced to give the same story in the presence of the Justice of Peace.

During the Voir Dire hearing, Williams denied that his client ever confessed to the murders. It was his contention also that the statement given by Harris was not voluntary and that he was made promises and threatened by police officers. Williams said that while his client was at the Major Crimes Unit (MCU) office at Central Police Station, Station Sergeant Sydney James told him to admit to the offences and that he would be treated leniently. He said his client was promised that they would work out something for him just like Mark Williams, who shot a woman in front of the police station.

When Harris took the stand to give evidence he told the court that while he was at the Calliaqua Police Station with Station Sergeant Trevor Bailey on March 2, 2007, he only said to the Bailey, “I did love that girl bad and we spend time in town and all thing and now all of a sudden she dead.”

Constable Harris further stated that when he returned to work the following day, Bailey told him to take off his uniform and that they were going to Kingstown. Harris said he was taken to Central Police Station and given some errands to run around the compound by Bailey. He added that he was taken to MCU where he met Station Sergeant James and Superintendent Rouzendal Francis. He said they questioned him about the deaths of Gill and Llewellyn.

Harris said that James cautioned him and informed of his right to have his lawyer present, but he refused and told the officers he wanted to give his side of the story. After telling the officers that he did not kill anyone, Harris said James told him to, “Shut yuh (expletive) mouth, is you, is (expletive) you.” He said James then told him that it is because he (Harris) went by the house and met the man (expletive) her, that he knocked out the man and killed her because men can’t take “Butt”. Harris then told the court that Francis raised his hand as if to hit him, and told him to give the police something. Harris said that is when he got intimidated and concocted a story about the incident and then signed it.

Leading the crown’s case, Director of Public Prosecution Colin Williams noted that Harris said he lied about “Nick,” and that he was only a fictional character. Colin Williams pointed out that Harris, in his confession to Bailey on March 2, 2007, and in his statements at the Major Crimes Unit in front of the Justice of the Peace, that Harris said, he told “Nick” to “deal with the man case,” then changed it to say “Warn the man”. The DPP said it was clear that Harris was gradually distancing himself from the matter. DPP Williams also noted that Harris never told the Justice of the Peace he was threatened into giving a statement. He said that the evidence was compelling and satisfactory and points beyond reasonable doubt that Harris was guilty.

Speaking to SEARCHLIGHT after the case, DPP Williams said that there are a few areas where the prosecution can tighten up their case in the re-trial. He said there was one witness who was not called at the Preliminary Inquiry stages, who they must ensure they get at the re-trial. Williams said that person’s evidence does not pertain to what happened on the night of the incident, but would be more of rebuttal evidence.

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