Jury retires in murder trial

| 20/07/2009

(CNS): At around 12:10 today (Monday 20 July) Justice Alex Henderson sent the jury to deliberate their decision in the trial of William Martinez-McLaughlin (centre) for the murder of Brian Rankine-Carter. Following his review of the evidence and law in the case, he noted that the charge against Martinez-McLaughlin is for one count of murder and the jury will need to return a unanimous verdict to the court. The judge emphasised the need for the jury to be absolutely sure that the Crown had proved the defendant had administered the fatal blows to Rankine if they were to return a guilty verdict, and if there was any doubt they must return a verdict of not guilty.

He said the Crown had not offered the option that Jason Hinds, the Crown’s principal’s witness, had committed the offence with the defendant and therefore the only verdict they could bring was against McLaughlin-Martinez.

The judge directed the jury to weigh all the evidence and consider the possible bias of Hinds, the motivations for his testimony and the possibility that he has lied, as well as the plausibility of it. He noted that there were indications that Hinds had lied, and why he may have done so. Henderson also pointed out the Crown’s suggestion that he had incriminated himself and that his evidence accords with police testimony.

He reminded the jury that suggestions made by the defence that a police office had conspired to help Jason Hinds was not evidence as the officer had not admitted to any collusion. Henderson directed the jury that the police errors or mistakes had only a narrow reference for them and it was not for them to decide how the police should have conducted the enquiry or how they could improve. The judge made the point that it was merely the absence of results regarding misplaced or missing evidence that may make the jurors less sure of guilt.

Focusing on the importance of the forensic evidence, he highlighted the fact that blood matching the deceased had been found on the principal witness’s boots as well as his clothes, which he had hidden but later led police to where they were buried.  

Justice Henderson said that the DNA and blood had also appeared on the defendant’s boots, wallet and belt and that his cap had been found at the scene of the murder under the victim’s left foot. He also noted that a blood spatter expert had indicated that the defendant had to have been very close to the deceased to get the stains on his boots and the boots had walked in a pool of blood.

The judge said the cap was a major point for the jury’s consideration as no explanation had been offered and they needed to consider for themselves how it ended up under the deceased foot.

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