Alleged cop killer to be set free

Published: Sunday | December 15, 2013 Comments 0

Barbara Gayle, Justice Coordinator

After six years in custody and four trials, a St Elizabeth man is slated to be freed come Wednesday, to allow him to spend the first Christmas with his family without a murder charge hanging over his head since his ordeal started in 2005.

Christopher Duhaney, 31-year-old higgler of Lacovia, St Elizabeth, was charged with the murder of Sergeant Jeffeth Seville, who was shot dead at his bar in Lacovia at about 10.30 p.m. on April 24, 2005.

Duhaney, who was arrested and charged in May 2005, faced his first trial in the St Elizabeth Circuit Court in February 2008, but a divided verdict was returned. Duhaney's second trial began in March 2009, but was aborted after several days because of allegations of interference with a juror.

A change of venue was granted for the trial to take place in Kingston.

Duhaney, who was represented by attorney-at-law Anthony Williams, was tried in the Home Circuit Court in June 2011 after the change of venue, but the jury returned a divided verdict of 6-6 and another trial was ordered.

The fourth trial began on November 25 and ended last Friday, when the jury, after retiring for two hours, returned with another 6-6 verdict.

The practice in Jamaica is that after an accused person is tried three times for murder and a jury has not arrived at a verdict, the prosecution does not pursue a fourth trial.

NO DELIBERATION

However, the aborted trial was not counted, because there was no deliberation by the jury, so prosecutors have contended that, in effect, Duhaney faced three trials.

In the just-concluded trial, the court was told by the sole eyewitness that she was at home when she heard explosions. She said when she looked outside, she saw Duhaney, who was wearing a hat with a peak, leaving the bar with two guns in his hands.

In his defence, Duhaney said he was in Hanover at the time of the murder.

During cross-examination of the eyewitness, the defence attorney, Williams, noted that before Duhaney was arrested, one of his relatives was locked up for 10 days for the policeman's murder.

Williams challenged the sole eyewitness on the issue of identification, pointing out that it was night and she was observing the man with the guns from a distance.

The attorney noted that Duhaney had spent six years in custody before he was granted bail after his trial in 2011.

Justice Lloyd Hibbert, who presided at the trial which ended last week, commented on the practice of not pursuing a fourth trial.

He extended Duhaney's bail until Wednesday, and added that the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions must deal with the matter when Duhaney returns to court.

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