Mon | Apr 6, 2020

'A mad me di a go mad' ... Says man freed of murder after 17 years

Published:Wednesday | June 6, 2018 | 12:00 AM

Leslie Nugent was overcome with emotion as he recounted how he spent nine years in custody for a crime he did not commit.

"Tears run out a me eyes. A 17 years me a suffer under this," Nugent said inside the main courtroom at the Home Circuit Court in downtown Kingston before the tears started flowing down his face.

"A mad me nearly mad," he added, trying to regain his composure.

Nugent, Kimarley Cooper and Carlos Howard walked free from the Home Circuit Court in downtown Kingston yesterday after prosecutors offered no evidence against them and a jury was directed to return a verdict of not guilty.

A fourth accused, Damion Crossdale did not show up for the trial, which was scheduled to start yesterday.

Howard, who spent five years in custody, said he felt like "a big burden has been lifted from me shoulders.

"You know when something big deh pon you shoulder you a carry ... . Worse, we innocent and in a custody so long; boy, is a good feeling," he said.

"I'm overjoyed. Tears can't even come, [because of] how long. [It] come in like the tears dry up," Howard continued.

Cooper, who was also locked up for five years, said that hearing the jury foreman utter the words "not guilty" brought tears to his eyes.

"Me never do nutten and dem come to a verdict weh the Almighty know the truth ... . Tears a joy a run out a me eyes right now," he said.

All three were arrested in 2002, along with Crossdale, Gary Cooke and Richard Peart for allegedly shooting 16-year-old Delroy Lawrence to death in Franklyn Town, east Kingston, on December 11, 2001.

The following year, they were committed to stand trial in the Circuit Court following a preliminary enquiry in the then Resident Magistrate's Court.

In April 2005, five of the six men faced a murder trial that ended with a hung jury and a retrial ordered. Cooke did not show up for the trial.

Peart died during the 13-year wait for the retrial.