Justice at last ... Relatives of senior citizens relieved as killer is convicted
Eighty-year-old Ida Johnson was a picture of relief as she stood in the court yard of the St Catherine Circuit Court on Wednesday. About an hour earlier, a seven-member jury said Gregory Harrison was guilty of murdering her sister.
Johnson's sister, Louise Barnes, was 69 years old at the time of her murder in 2009. Barnes' partially decomposing body was found wrapped in cloth in a shallow grave on the Thetford Farms in Church Pen district, St Catherine. The Crown led evidence that in September 2009, the accused allegedly killed, partially burnt and buried the body of the senior citizen.
"I am very happy and satisfied that justice has finally come for the family. I am even more pleased that we now have closure in the matter. I have been seeking justice for my sister for seven years and finally it is here. Thank God," Johnson said.
The elderly woman told THE WEEKEND STAR that the family suffered tremendous emotional hurt since the incident. She said that while the guilty verdict will not bring back her sister, the fact that justice has been done will help to heal the wounds.
Javon Bryan, a grand-nephew who took the journey to Spanish Town from Port Morant in St Thomas to observe each day of the four-week trial, said he is a relieved man.
"I feel real good and I hope that there will a sentence long enough for the crime that he committed. I just feel that justice was served," Bryan said.
Nigel Williams, Barnes' son, who led a delegation of relatives that travelled to Jamaica from England for the trial, was pleased with the outcome, but still heartbroken.
"We cannot get back our mother, but it will give others hope that justice lives in the court system. I was the one called to identified my mother's body, which was reduced to burnt remains inside a rice bag ... . Imagine me holding my mother's fractured skull in my hand. It was the use of DNA that had to be used to identified her. It is sad," Williams said.
The trial, which was based on circumstantial evidence, started on November 29 and saw the Crown calling 13 witnesses.
The presiding judge was David Fraser while Senior Deputy Director of Public Prosecution Jeremy Taylor and Donnette Henriques were the prosecutors.
Harrison will be sentence on January 13 next year.