Prosecutor concedes retrial after 13 years a breach but says it won't prejudice case
Livern Barrett, Senior Gleaner Writer
A senior prosecutor today conceded that the 13-year wait to hold a second trial for four men accused of murder is a breach of their constitutional right.
However, Kathy Pyke, the lead prosecutor in the case against Leslie Nugent, Kimarley Cooper, Carlos Howard and Damion Crossdale, says discontinuing the prosecution is not the remedy.
"One cannot deny that there has been a breach. The lapse of 13 years is inordinate," Pyke acknowledged.
"A stay of proceedings is a last resort. It is resorted to if there is no way for an accused to be tried or that he cannot get a fair trial," Pyke asserted.
She was responding to an application by the men's attorneys for a stay of proceedings that would effectively end the case.
Valerie Neita-Roberston, the attorney representing Howard, argued yesterday that it is an abuse of process for the prosecution of the men to continue after 13 years.
The four men were arrested and charged for shooting Desmond Lawrence to death in east Kingston in December 2001.
Their first trial ended with a hung jury in 2005 and a re-trial was ordered by a High Court judge.
However, Pyke, a senior deputy director of public prosecutions, told the court that there are reasons for the delays "which are outside our control as the prosecuting authority."
She revealed that in some instances the re-trial was postponed because of insufficient jurors, another trial was already in progress or to settle legal representation.
Pyke argued that there are procedures that can be adopted by the court to ensure there are no prejudice to the men.
"The court can give warning to the jurors about delays," she suggested.
Presiding judge, Justice Courtney Daye is to give his decision at 2 o'clock.