Barbara Gayle, Staff Reporter
A botched juror selection yesterday forced the adjournment of the trial of four men whose murder case has been pending for 11 years.
After six of the standard 12 jurors were chosen, Supreme Court judge Courtney Daye halted the selection in the Home Circuit Court because only nine other potential jurors were available.
Each of the four accused is entitled to challenge seven juror picks; the Crown, too, is entitled to a similar number of challenges, aggregating 56 persons. Therefore, there should be a best-case-scenario pool of 68 juror hopefuls from which to select the eventual 12.
Defence lawyer Valerie Neita-Robertson was upset that the trial could not proceed.
"It is 11 years and the Crown has never, on any occasion, got off the ground. It is disgraceful!" Neita-Robertson remarked.
The judge said the court was trying to kick-start the case but explained that the reason for the adjournment could not be overlooked.
The case has been set for trial next Monday.
Attorney-at-law Kathy Pyke, who is representing the Crown, said she hoped they would not be faced with a similar problem next week.
The judge sent the clerk to find out how many prospective jurors were served for next week and was told that of the 865 summonses that were issued, only 100 persons were served. Twenty-six summonses were also mailed to prospective jurors.
The accused men are Byron Johnson, Solomon Johnson, Devon Hackett and Carlos Williams of Morant Bay, St Thomas. Two of the men are in custody.
They are charged jointly with the murder of police Corporal James Calder McDonald, who was shot and his throat slashed during a robbery in Seaforth, St Thomas, in December 1999.