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Mis-trial declared in Foster murder case

Mis-trial declared in Foster murder case

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After nearly two weeks of testimony and cross-examination, a mistrial has been declared in the trial of Odinga “Boomsa” Foster, who has been charged with the murder of teenager Agassi Fraser.{{more}}

Just before the case continued at the High Court last Thursday, presiding judge Frederick Bruce-Lyle announced that the trial had to be aborted.

“I’m afraid that this case has to be brought to a halt immediately… There will be a re-trial of the matter in the circumstances….I am disappointed for all the writing I have done,” Bruce-Lyle said.

The judge said it had been brought to his attention that there is a matter with the jury, which he said could cause bias in the case.

Foster’s attorney Kay Bacchus-Browne told SEARCHLIGHT that information came to her attention that one of the jurors has a close association with the family of the deceased.

“So, I brought it to the judge’s attention and the judge conducted an inquiry and based on the juror’s answer, he was satisfied that it would be unjust to continue the case with the juror on it…

“He (the judge) told the juror that he was going to discharge the jury in the interest of justice and fairness to the accused,” Bacchus-Browne explained.

The prominent lawyer is of the view that the particular juror should have revealed her association.

“This was two weeks of serious work on my behalf, the judge’s behalf, taxpayers’ money and it gone down the drain…,” Bacchus-Browne exclaimed.

She added that the turn of events has “messed her up,” seeing that the case, for her, has been going well.

“To have to go and do this over again is really difficult. We just have to do it.”

Bacchus-Browne said her client is disappointed by what transpired and is even more disappointed that he has to re-do an entire trial.

She added that the matter will be re-tried at the next criminal assizes, slated for September.

Fraser’s lifeless body was discovered on October 10, 2009, face down in the Arnos Vale river, after he was reported missing two days earlier.

His disappearance was reported to police on Friday, October 9, the same day a $60,000 ransom was demanded.

Star prosecution witness Brando Lockhart told jurors that he assisted Foster in removing Fraser’s dead body from his Arnos Vale apartment and dumping it in the river.

Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions Colin John said the main concern raised by the defence was that the female juror would be partial in her deliberations, which would in turn be prejudicial to Bacchus-Browne’s client.

John explained that in other offences, a jury can return a majority verdict, but in the case of murder, in order for there to be a guilty verdict, the jury has to be unanimous.

He stated that the Jury Act does not clearly state if 11 of the 12 persons on a jury panel could bring back a guilty verdict on a murder charge.

“Let’s say you discharge a member of the jury, the law is not clear as to if 11 persons would say guilty and that [would] suffice… The fact that one juror had to be discharged, they had to discharge the entire jury…,”

John noted that Bacchus-Browne raised the concern in the interest of her client and that it was better to act now, rather than going through the entire trial.

“The judge, really in my opinion, had no choice but to err on the side of caution. Let’s say if he had gone through and there was a conviction, the Court of Appeal may have overturned the conviction. So it’s better to stop it at this stage….,” John said.

He said the trial will most likely be heard at the next assizes.(KW)

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