Witness scared to testify

| 17/12/2009

(CNS): The trial of Randy Martin ground to a halt yesterday when the two legal teams became bogged down in the legal arguments and ramifications of the refusal by the crown’s last witness to give evidence after she had taken the stand. She told the judge that she had no evidence to give against Randy Martin as she had a child to live for and she was afraid for her life. The witness said she had given a statement to the police during the murder enquiry but she had said she would not testify in court. As a result of her refusal Justice Charles Quin adjourned the proceedings and for the second time in this trial ordered the services of ‘amicus curiae’ to advise the witness about her legal rights and contempt of court.

The judge explained to the very reluctant witness that she would be in contempt of court if she did not answer the crown’s questions but he did not wish to send her to jail. Anthony Akiwumi then arrived at the court to offer advice and support to the witness, who had made it quite clear that she was not prepared to give evidence under any circumstances as she felt threatened.

During her brief period on the stand the witness said that she had already explained to Solicitor General Cheryll Richards (pictured above) that she did not want to testify as she was scared and she had no one to defend her.

“I have a child to live for. If he gets off this case I have to wonder what my life will be,” she said, becoming clearly distraught and emotional.

As the witness’s statement is yet to be officially examined in evidence, the content of that statement was not fully revealed. However, it was clear that the crown held considerable weight on the evidence she had given to the police in her statement with regards to its case against Martin. At this stage the crown has presented forensic evidence which places Martin at the scene, as well as evidence of a connection between the deceased and the defendant. The crown has also presented evidence that it says shows Martin also had the opportunity, but has not yet provided a motive for the brutal murder of the 21 year old.  

Despite being pressed by the court over the importance of her testimony and the seriousness of the charges against Martin, the witness said she had moved on and said she did not want to say anything at all about Martin.

Following discussions with the ‘friend of the court’, Akiwumi, the witness submitted a hand written statement to the court setting out her fears and anxiety over testifying, which then drove both defence counsel and the crown into further legal arguments and submissions about whether or not the statement amounted to sufficient excuse for the witness not to speak and if so how the evidence could be admitted.

The judge adjourned the court yesterday afternoon to consider the submissions and is expected to offering his ruling in court one this morning (Thursday 17 December).

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