Man still on murder charge despite witness' death

by

March 11, 2016
@Normal:Man Aiming Gun

Although the sole eyewitness in a murder case was fatally shot in 2014, the murder charge against the accused man has not been dropped.

Relatives of the accused man are querying why he has not been freed since there is no witness.

The sister of the accused man has said that since the sole eyewitness was shot and killed in 2014 her brother has been to court four times.

"The last time he went to court was in January this year and he was given another court date," she said.

"This is a real waste of time and my brother is fed up that he still has to be going to court although the witness is dead. My brother, who is on bail on the murder charge, just wants the whole process to end so he can move on with his life.

LYING WITNESS

The sister added: "I know as a fact that the witness had lied. My brother did not shoot anyone. The witness and my brother had a fuss some weeks before, and that was the reason he lied that he saw my brother shooting someone.

"I know my brother does not have a gun. My brother was arrested and charged a month after the witness lied that my brother committed murder. My brother spent almost a year in custody before he was granted bail.

"The murder charge against my brother has severely affected our mother. She cannot sleep at nights because she just wants to see him free of the murder charge.

"It is my opinion that once there is no witness to testify against my brother, then there can be no trial," she said.

Many people believe that cases cannot be tried if witnesses are dead or are not available, but that is not so. The cases are commonly called 'paper trials' and there have been convictions in some of those cases.

The Evidence (Amendment) Act makes provisions for cases to be tried in the absence of witnesses. Section 31 (D) of the act outlines the circumstances under which a written statement shall be admissible in criminal proceedings as evidence. The law states that the statement can be admitted in evidence once it is proven to the satisfaction of the court that the "witness is dead; is unfit by reason of his bodily or mental condition to attend as a witness; is living outside of Jamaica and it is not reasonably practicable to secure his attendance; cannot be found after all reasonable steps have been taken to find him; or is kept away from the proceedings by threats of bodily harm and no reasonable steps can be taken to protect the person."

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