September trial for accused killer of UTech student
The man accused of the January 5 stabbing death of University of Technology (UTech) student Demar Stennett was ordered to stand trial in the St James Circuit Court on September 30 following his committal hearing in the St James Parish Court yesterday.
Rahjif Morgan, who allegedly stabbed Stennett more than 50 times, bore a mournful expression in the prisoner’s dock as presiding judge Kacia Grant made the order for his case to be tried in the Circuit Court. Grant made her ruling despite Morgan’s lawyer, Henry McCurdy, arguing that the defendant acted in self-defence.
“I don’t believe that a prima facie case (a case accepted as correct until proven otherwise) has been made. There’s no independent statement on file that says he was the person who did it, and he said that he did it in self-defence,” McCurdy said concerning Morgan.
“There’s a post-mortem report that says the victim had 54 stab wounds. It’s now a matter of whether a jury will accept the accused man’s version of events or the post-mortem’s version, and I’m committing the matter to the Circuit Court, where you can make whatever submissions you wish,” Grant replied.
Morgan was offered bail in the sum of J$1 million with three sureties before Grant set September 30 as the trial date.
Demar Stennett was stabbed to death at Merriam Way, near Westgate Hills in Montego Bay, on January 5. His murder was the first one recorded in St James for 2019.
It is alleged that approximately 7 a.m. on the day of the murder, soldiers assigned to the zone of special operations (ZOSO) in Mount Salem were patrolling along Merriam Way when they saw Morgan standing beside a parked car.
Morgan reportedly told the soldiers that the vehicle had broken down. However, his behaviour and several wounds on his face aroused suspicion. He ran off and the soldiers gave chase and subdued him after he engaged them in a fistfight.
Morgan was then brought back to the car, where the soldiers found a bloody knife. He subsequently led them to nearby bushes, where Stennett’s body was discovered.