Barbara Gayle, Justice Coordinator
After waiting for eight years in custody to face a retrial, 33-year-old upholsterer Christopher Dixon was freed yesterday of the murder of reputed psychic 29-year-old Safa Asuntuwa.
Attorney-at-law Tom Tavares-Finson has criticised the justice system for the long delay.
"The time he spent in custody amounts to serving a sentence," Tavares-Finson remarked. Dixon had been in custody since 2002.
"It is an injustice for an accused to spend almost 11 years in custody," Tavares-Finson said. Yesterday, Tavares-Finson told The Gleaner that the process by which Section 31(D) of the Evidence (Amendment) Act is used when witnesses cannot be found must be further reviewed because too much time is wasted.
A Home Circuit Court jury deliberated for two hours before returning the not-guilty verdict.
Dixon was first convicted of the murder in June 2003 and was sentenced to life imprisonment. He appealed and in 2004 the Court of Appeal ordered a retrial because of comments the judge had made to the jury.
The second trial was held up because the main witness for the prosecution could not be found.
When the trial started last week, the prosecution applied for the transcript of the evidence which the witness gave at the previous trial to be tendered in evidence under the Evidence (Amendment) Act.
Justice Lloyd Hibbert granted the application and the evidence was read to the jury.
Dixon, who was also represented by Christian Tavares-Finson, denied committing the murder.
Asuntuwa was beaten to death between June 24 and 25, 2002. His body was found in a gully off the Cavaliers main road in St Andrew about 10:30 a.m. on June 25, 2002.
It was alleged at the trial that Dixon and another man were the last to have seen Asuntuwa alive.