Livern Barrett, Gleaner Writer
An elaborate scheme concocted by two convicts inside one of the country's penal institutions that could have allowed a convicted murderer to walk free collapsed yesterday leaving Public Defender Earl Witter furious.
The "nefarious plan" was set in motion last Friday when one of the inmates wrote to Witter saying he "has found himself having a better relationship with God" and wanted to confess to the murder for which the other inmate is serving a 40-year prison sentence.
The Office of the Public Defender has withheld the names of both men, but said one is from the Corporate Area while the other is from rural Jamaica.
In his 'confession' letter, the inmate, who has admitted to 12 previous convictions and is serving a 12-year sentence for illegal possession of firearm, gave a detailed account of the supposed events that ended with the slaying of a woman in January 2003.
He claimed the woman was pregnant for him, but later had an abortion, saying she already had a three-year-old son and was not ready for another child.
"I went to confront her about what she had done and she did not show any sign of remorse and that outraged me and I slashed her throat and attempted to behead her," he wrote.
"I sincerely ask that you intervene and correct the wrong that was done. Please, I ask that you have this matter adjudicated so my conscience shall he put at ease," he pleaded.
Referring to his cohort as an "innocent man", the inmate wrote that he had since apologised to him, "but the guilt is mercilessly unbearable and I can no longer watch an innocent man suffer because of what I did".
Witter, who admitted he was initially moved by the inmate's courage to come forward, was outraged when he discovered while "interrogating" the men yesterday that it was "an elaborate attempt at a scam".
"And, frankly, I resent it because it represented a despicable effort to dupe the public defender or to suborn our office to a mightily nefarious scheme," he said.
"I want to deter others from practising that kind of fraud upon this office," Witter added, as he sought to explain his decision to make the contents of the letter public.
He said during the interviews, both men told "irreconcilably conflicting stories" and pointed fingers at each other for masterminding the scheme.
"The sum of it is that the supposed confessor either solicited monies from the murder convict to make this fantastic attempt at not only duping the public defender, but practising a fraud upon the legal process," Witter told The Gleaner.
Witter said both men could be slapped with criminal charges, but gave no indication whether his office would pursue those charges.