Tue | Sep 19, 2017

Peter Vogel Trial | Evidence rises above suspicion, says judge

Published:Saturday | June 24, 2017 | 6:00 AMLivern Barrett
Dr Peter Vogel
In this file photo a policeman leaves the crime scene where Dr Peter Vogel, was killed at his College Common home in Mona, St Andrew.
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A High Court judge has ruled that the evidence presented by prosecutors in the trial of the former household helper accused of killing university lecturer Dr Peter Vogel rises "above suspicion".

The ruling by Justice Evon Brown was handed down in the Home Circuit Court in downtown Kingston as he turned down an application by defence attorneys to have the charges dismissed against their clients.

"My job is to determine whether the evidence, as it is presented, rises above suspicion, and I so find," said Brown before directing that both accused present their defence.

Yanika Scott, Vogel's former live-in helper, and her boyfriend, Kelvin Downer, are on trial for killing the late lecturer at his home in College Commons, St Andrew, on July 18, 2007. Forensic pathologist Dr S N Prasad Kadiyala testified that he died of "asphyxia secondary to strangulation".

Brown's ruling came after lead prosecutor Maxine Jackson, in her response to the no-case submission, painted the former helper as an angry, bitter and jealous woman. "It is clear that Miss Scott was about to be fired," Jackson said, in reference to the testimony of Vogel's wife that he was killed a day before the helper was to be terminated.

"Miss Scott was clearly bitter, but robbery would also be a motive," Jackson said of a possible motive for the killing.

The prosecutor noted also that both Scott and Downer placed themselves inside Vogel's home on the night he was killed when they told police investigators, in separate interviews, that masked gunmen entered the house and ordered them, minutes later, into the former lecturer's motor vehicle during their escape.

This evidence, she argued, should be viewed alongside the testimony of the lead police investigator, Deputy Superintendent Webster Francis, who said he saw no sign of forced entry or exit at Vogel's home. "At the end of the prosecution's case, this was unchallenged," she noted.

... Ample evidence

"There is ample evidence that ought to be left to the jury," argued Maxine Jackson, lead prosecutor in the trial of domestic helper Yanika Scott and her boyfriend, Kelvin Downer, for the murder of Dr Peter Vogel, Scott's former employer.

Before the ruling by Justice Evon Brown, that they had a case to answer, attorney-at-law Jacqueline Asher, who is representing Scott, argued that prosecutors had failed to connect her to Vogel's death.

Asher, in her no-case submission, argued that had Scott been found at the house or made contact with Vogel's family after his body was discovered, there is a likelihood that she would not have been charged with a crime.

Still, the attorney argued, Scott's action, without more, cannot form the basis of a conclusion that she participated in a murder.

The trial is scheduled to continue on Monday.