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Stabroek News

Jury frees Beckles of murder charge
published: Wednesday | November 28, 2007

An 11-member jury deliberated Monday for two hours before freeing 22-year-old university student Rodney Beckles of the murder of 28-year-old Khalil Campbell, son of Supreme Court Judge, Lennox Campbell.

The jury's verdict was greeted with disapproval by a family member and friends of the deceased. A friend of the deceased, who was in court, rushed towards Beckles as he was leaving the dock after Justice Kay Beckford adjourned court.

The man appeared as if he were going to attack Beckles.

"Remember what mi tell you," the man said to Beckles. "Is this a threat, is this a threat?" one of Beckles' lawyers asked.

The police ordered the man to leave the courtroom.

Cried openly

"There is no justice in the courts," a relative of the deceased shouted as she wept openly outside the courtroom after the verdict.

Beckles' parents, who were in court, also cried after they heard the verdict.

Beckles, who is a former captain of Jamaica's under-17 table tennis team, and son of Univer-sity of the West Indies professor Hilary Beckles, had been on trial in the Home Circuit Court since last week Monday.

One of the jurors fell ill last week and the judge had to continue the case with 11 jurors.

Chillum pipe

Campbell was fatally stabbed on January 3, after he asked Beckles and a friend for a draw from a chillum pipe, which they were smoking. Beckles had been in custody since then.

The judge, in her summation, told the jury that they should not be influenced by prejudice or sympathy for the accused or the deceased. The jury found that Beckles was not guilty of murder or manslaughter. Beckles, who was represented by defence lawyers, Patrick Atkinson, Deborah Martin and Robert Fletcher, gave sworn testimony in his defence and was thoroughly cross-examined by prosecutors, Caroline Hay and Ann-Marie Feurtado-Richards.

Self-defence

He said he acted in self-defence after Campbell, who was known to be mentally ill, rushed at him as a raging bull and held on to his leg.

He said he began hitting him and when his leg was released, he saw blood on his clothes and blood on the deceased's chest.

He said he and a friend were smoking ganja from a chillum pipe and it was after they denied Campbell's request that the incident took place.

Defensive injuries

The prosecution led evidence that there were 16 superficial injuries to the body and two stab wounds.

The fatal injury was a stab wound to the chest which penetrated the heart. The pathologist said he saw defensive injuries to the body.

The defence brought medical evidence to show that the deceased was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and cannabis abuse, and was aggressive when he did not get his medication.

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