Murder re-trial opens following quashed conviction

| 17/01/2011

(CNS): William McLaughlin-Martinez was due to return to the Grand Court on Monday morning to be tried for the second time for the murder of 20-year-old Brain Rankine-Carter, whose mutilated naked body was found in McField Square in George Town on 16 May 2008. McLaughlin-Martinez was convicted of the murder in July 2009. However, the conviction was squashed by the Cayman Islands Court of Appeal in August last year following an appeal. The appeals court found that a misdirection by the trial judge to the jury was enough to overturn the verdict and ordered a retrial. Martinez, who was serving a mandatory life sentence, has remained in jail on remand since the conviction was quashed.

A new jury was expected to be selected on Monday morning for the second trial, which will be presided over by Justice Charles Quin.

The key witness in the case remains Jason Hinds, aJamaican national who says he was with Martinez when the murder took palace. He was later convicted of accessory after the fact and was sentenced to three years in prison. However, he was released last year and deported.

The case will be prosecuted for a second time by Solicitor General Cheryll Richards QC and McLaughlin-Martinez will be represented by UK counsel, Mark Tomassi.

The crown’s case against the defendant, which has not altered, is that the victim was murdered by Martinez in an extremely violent attack after a drug deal went wrong. The murderer almost severed the head of the young man, who, according to forensic experts, had suffered more than 48 injuries that had been administered with a machete and something akin to an ice-pick.

The defence says the crown could not prove which one of the two men present that night was the murderer and which was the accessory. Although Martinez did not take the stand in his own defence, his counsel pointed to Hinds as the culprit.

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