Tue | Sep 26, 2017

One of three charged in Mario Deane's murder case unfit to plead

Published:Sunday | July 31, 2016 | 7:00 AM
Mercia Fraser (second right), mother of the late Mario Deane; and Dennis Meadows (second left), the co-convenor of CAPI, are joined by two supporters as they staged a peaceful protest outside the Barnett Street Police Station in Montego Bay, St James, demanding justice for him.

WESTERN BUREAU:

The Mario Deane case has hit a hurdle as doctors have found one of his accused killers unfit to plead.

Damion Cargill, who is deaf, has been seen by two psychiatrists and a language expert and they have concluded that he does not have the mental capacity to stand trial.

Cargill's attorney, Franklyn Halliburton, made the announcement in the St James Circuit Court last Friday when the matter came up for mention. Based on the doctors' reports, there has to be a hearing for submissions to be placed in evidence on October 10.

Cargill, along with co-accused Marvin Orr and Adrian Morgan, reportedly stabbed and beat Deane over the use of a bed while they were all locked in a cell at the Barnett Street Police Station.

Deane's death

Deane, who was arrested for having a ganja spliff in his possession, later died at the Cornwall Regional Hospital.

"Mr Cargill is unable to produce human language and meet the standards of well-formedness. Further, he does not have the expressive and receptive skills of a native English or Patois speaker. Communicating with him on areas unrelated to basic daily activities is not possible," says the report by linguistic expert Dr Keren Cumberbatch.

Pointing out that Cargill was deaf but not mute, Cumberbatch added that he has experienced severe cognitive developmental setbacks and is unable to use language and thinking skills expected of the prototypical adult.

"He lacks the ability to comprehend complex language constructions as well as complex, abstract concepts. His expressive skills are poor in signed and spoken communication. His speech is often unclear."

A marijuana user, Cumberbatch stated that Cargill was only able to enunciate a few responses such as his name and being told to "go over there".

These intelligible responses were produced as English phrases and Patois sentences, she explained.

Cumberbatch concluded that Cargill would not understand charges against him, and it may be difficult to interrogate him on specific details of an event.

"Perhaps, if his voice were amplified, his speech would be more intelligible. His receptive skills are almost non-existent in signed communication, but with loud-spoken communication, they range from poor to fair," she summarised.

Cargill, who has been admitted to the Cornwall Regional Hospital on a number of occasions for mental illness, was interviewed in the presence of his brother, Javon Cargill, who acted as an interpreter.

gross speech impairment

Cumberbatch's observations were complemented by reports from consultant psychiatrists with the Department of Correctional Services, doctors Nyo Hoo and Clayton Sewell.

In addition to finding Cargill unfit, the two psychiatrists alluded to his gross speech impairment.

Under Jamaican law, if an accused is found unfit to plead, that person is incarcerated in a regular prison because of the absence of a medical facility.

Interim reports are usually given to the director of public prosecutions. However, in Cargill's situation, it is unlikely that he will improve.

With Cargill unfit to plead, he will be separated from his co-accused, whose plea and case management has been set for September 23.

Orr is being represented by Stacy-Ann Young and Trevor Ho-Lyn, and Everton Dewar is representing Morgan.

Janet.silvera@gleanerjm.com