Ffriend guilty again, will appeal
Jamaican basketball player Kimani Ffriend was once again found guilty of vehicular manslaughter in a Serbian Court yesterday.
Ffriend, now 36, was being retried on the charge of being responsible for the death of Nevena Dragutinovic, a 30-year-old account executive, on November 3, 2012. He was first found guilty of the charge in September 2014 for the woman's death and sentenced to serve three years in prison. However, an appeals court ordered a retrial, citing several mistakes made by the presiding judge.
Ffriend, who has five months left on his sentence, will once again appeal the verdict, and this time, the appellate court's decision will be the final verdict in the case. He will remain free until the appellate court makes its decision.
A date for the final appeal will be determined once the judge submits a written verdict explaining her latest decision, including why she chose to ignore the court-appointed expert's testimony that, having reconstructed the scene of the incident, that the Jamaican's explanation was plausible and that it was possible that he was not guilty. The judge had based her initial guilty verdict on the expert witness' testimony, but this time chose to ignore it.
"It's just sad, man. It feels like somebody just took the air out of me," said Ffriend in reaction to the verdict. However, he remains hopeful, as his lawyers have said that they now have a stronger case to take to the appeals court.
During the first appeal, the court ruled that there were six mistakes that needed to be addressed during the retrial, and even suggested that the scene of the incident be reconstructed. During the retrial, the scene of the incident was reconstructed, during which Ffriend testified about what occurred on that fateful night three years ago.
The court-appointed expert testified on his new findings, which corroborated with the Jamaican's testimony, but the judge chose to ignore the new information he provided to the court.
She claimed that she would not accept the verdict of the expert, as he had changed portions of his testimony from the first trial and that she was not obligated to accept his findings. In her opinion, Ffriend was guilty.
- Leighton Levy