Sun | Mar 24, 2019

Bunny Francis Murder Trial | Accused fires attorneys, trial postponed

Published:Wednesday | January 16, 2019 | 12:00 AMNickoy Wilson/Gleaner Writer
Roderick 'Bunny' Francis

The long-awaited trial for the four men charged with the murder of well-known conch businessman Roderick 'Bunny' Francis suffered another blow yesterday, after three of the men parted ways with their attorneys, leading to the postponement of the trial, now set for April 24.

Attorneys Vincent Wellesley, Diane Jobson and Pierre Rogers, who are representing Sheldon Watson, Newton Welsh and George Gardener, respectively, informed the court that their clients told them that they would no longer require their services.

However, accused Carlos Batista, who is represented by Deborah Martin, retained his legal representation.

Watson's actions came after it was disclosed that he was offered a plea bargain by the prosecution to testify against his co-accused. Watson, who spoke on the request of presiding judge, Justice Glen Brown, said that he had lost confidence in his attorney.

The other men shared similar sentiments.

Earlier in the proceedings at the Home Circuit Court in downtown Kingston, the defence requested for the matter to be tried by judge alone, but the Crown insisted that it be done with both a judge and jury.

This gave way to a verbal exchange between the Crown and defence attorney.

"We are not going to agree to trial by judge alone," said Kathy Pyke, prosecutor in the matter.

Martin asked, "What is the reason for absolutely rejecting this process? What is it that bars any judge in the Supreme Court by sitting and hearing a trial alone?"

But Pyke, in her defence, said, "When we made the decision, we did not factor in a lack of trust in the judiciary."

Due to the limited number of jurors available yesterday, the enpanelling of a jury was also not possible.

The court has set the matter for mention where the issue of legal representation for the men will take precedence.

nickoy.wilson@gleanerjm.com