Clarendon cops freed of murder charge
It was a rare scene in the lobby of the Supreme Court in downtown Kingston yesterday as three of seven jurors who found Detective Corporal Kevin Adams and Constable Jerome Whyte not guilty of murder moments before engaged the acquitted cops in conversation.
The seven-member jury found the two cops not guilty of the 2012 murder of Anthony ‘Toby’ Trought in the Race Track district in Clarendon after just 45 minutes of deliberation.
They were retired at 2:20 p.m. yesterday.
Adams and Whyte are among 13 cops from the Clarendon Police Division who were, in 2014, charged by the Independent Commission of Investigations for allegedly carrying out extrajudicial killings as part of a so-called death squad based in the parish.
Reacting to the verdict shortly after it was handed down, attorney-at-law, Queen’s Counsel Valerie Neita-Robertson, said she was pleased with jury’s decision.
“Listen, no jury verdict is ever expected, but clearly this jury listened to the evidence attentively over the weeks and I can know from the questions they asked that they were weighing the issue of self-defence as against the Crown’s case, and I am very happy for my client, Mr Adams, and Mr Whyte. They are fine police officers and it was very nerve-wracking for them. So I am happy I was able to discharge my function as defence attorney,” said Neita-Robertson.
Also responding to the verdict, attorney-at-law Queen’s Counsel K. Churchill Neita, who represented Whyte, said the verdict did not come as a surprise.
“We believe that the verdict demonstrates the position that police officers, in the legitimate exercise of their duty, who are sworn to defend and protect us, when they, in fact, defend themselves and their colleagues in legitimate self-defence that this is the type of verdict that we expect. The jury retired for 45 minutes. They were mindful of all the issues raised and obviously accepted that it was a killing that was quite justified in the circumstances,” said Neita.
Lead prosecutor in the matter, Queen’s Counsel Caroline Hay, said that she and her three-member team are respectful of the jury’s decision.
“Our position in relation to jury verdicts is always the same. Jamaica is a difficult place to prosecute because witnesses are always intimidated, people don’t want to serve, so when jurors come out to serve and give their time and attention as citizens of the country and people who play a significant role in the justice system, we thank them and appreciate it and we encourage people to come forward. And we always respect the verdict of the jury. There was a trial, it was presided over by a judge, evidence was called, the jury heard all of it, they retired, they made their decision. We respect it. Next case,” Hay said.
During the four-week trial, the prosecution led evidence that on a visit of the Race Track district in Clarendon on the day of the incident, Adams and Whyte shot and killed Trought in cold blood.
The cops, however, insisted that they acted in self-defence.
Adams is still awaiting trial on two other murder charges.