St Ann family has case to answer in death of mentally ill man - judge
Prosecutors have made out a prima facie case against the five members of a St Ann family who are on trial for stoning and chopping a mentally ill man to death.
"There is a case to answer for all," Justice Carol Lawrence Beswick ruled yesterday.
The ruling was handed down in the Home Circuit Court in downtown Kingston where Velma Dean, her husband, Joseph, and their three sons - Jermaine, Richard and Dwight - are on trial for the death of Stanley McLean in the community of Coltart Grove, St Ann, in July 2007.
Witness' credibility questioned
It came after their attorney Ernest Smith asked Lawrence Beswick to end the trial, arguing that the credibility of the main eyewitness - the victim's father, Audley McLean - had been "shattered" and that it would be "unsafe" to leave the case for the consideration of the seven-member jury.
"The discrepancies are on matter that are of fundamental evidenciary importance ... . I would invite Your Ladyship to direct the jury to return a formal verdict of not guilty," he said in his unsuccessful legal arguments.
After the ruling, all five gave unsworn statements denying any involvement in McLean's death.
Velma Dean, who prosecutors claim played a lead role in the attack on McLean, testified that she was at home when she was told that "people" were stoning McLean's house because he chopped her husband.
"I did not tell Mr [Audley] McLean that I was going to kill Stanley and I would never do that," she said, contradicting the elderly man's testimony that she threatened his son's life minutes before he was killed.
'Him start to chop me and say man like you fi dead'
Joseph Dean, in his unsworn statement, said he was on his way home from his job as a tractor trailer driver when his wife called and told him that Stanley McLean had "chopped down light [electric] wire" at their home.
He said he went to the police and was told that his wife had already filed a complaint.
"I went to the house, and after I came off the tractor, I asked Stanley what happen to the light wire. Him start chop me and seh 'man like you fi dead'. I fell and then I woke up in a hospital," Joseph Dean testified.
However, lead prosecutor Sharon Millwood-Moore, in her response to Smith's no-case submission, acknowledged that there were "inconsistencies" in the evidence of Audley McLean, but said that does not make his testimony "unreliable in its entirety.
"We do not believe that the areas of conflict involve the main aspects of the case to make it unreliable," she argued.
"We maintain that there is evidence to show that they acted with intent to cause serious harm or to kill the deceased," Millwood-Moore insisted.
The trial continues today.