Triple murder suspect unrepresented for first trial

| 14/04/2011

(CNS): A West Bay man who faces three murder charges only has legal representation in one of the cases against him and is now facing his first trial in just over three weeks without a lawyer. Raziel Omar Jeffers (27) is charged with the fatal shooting of Marcus Ebanks in Bonaventure Lane in July 2009, as well as the murder of Damion Ming in Birch Tree Hill Road and Marcus Duran in Malawians Way, West Bay, last March. Although Jeffers was expecting to face the charges regarding the murder of Ebanks first, the crown’s decision to try him for the killing of Duran alongside the teenage suspect the prosecution says is his co-conspirator leaves Jeffers without legal representation and only three weeks away from trial. (Photo courtesy Cayman27)

The crown’s application to join Jeffers onto an indictment alongside a 17-year-old also accused of murdering Marcus Duran was granted by the Grand Court on Wednesday afternoon. The teen has been on remand awaiting trial for more than twelve months.

During Wednesday’s hearing concerns were raised by the teen’s defence counsel, who objected to the joinder. Alongside the potential problems that could arise during the trial if her client was tried alongside Jeffers, the obvious delays that his lack of representation could cause would be unfair to the teen, Lucy Organ from Samson McGrath stated to the court.

She pointed out that the 9 May date when her client is sent to face trial for the killing of Duran is already his third trial date as a result of the delays caused by the crown’s wish to try the two accused together.

Organ reminded the court her client was 16 years old when he was arrested and charged with the murder and has been in prison ever since. She said that, having been shot himself on the night of the killing, he has been struggling to receive the necessary medical attention he needs for the severe injuries he sustained.

Jeffers, who represented himself at the hearing, pointed out that he has not yet had an opportunity to test the evidence the crown claims it has against him since the charges were brought. A combination of difficulties with counsel as well as having his attention on another murder charge left him struggling to deal with this particular charge, Jeffers told the court.

He pointed out that the crown’s case against him in all three murder charges boiled down to what he said was hearsay evidence from one witness, and as a result all three cases were linked.

The accused man said his attorney who was representing him in the Bonventure case, the first murder charge the crown brought against him, was focusing on having the charges in that case dismissed, which, he said, would have a knock on effect. Jeffers said that his lawyer was only able to deal with one murder case at a time, so it was unfair to ask a lay person like him to tackle more than one at a time.

The disadvantage that Jeffers is now in did not go unnoticed by the court and it has been suggested that counsel is found in the UK directly to represent him in what is now emerging as the first case he will be expected to face.

The problems of legal representation in criminal cases continues to be an issue for the local justice system due to the limited pool of attorneys willing to take on legal aid criminal defence work as a result of the uncertainty surrounding payment.

There are only around a half-dozen defence lawyers who are taking on the bulk of the serious criminal cases which are set down for trial in the Grand Court.

Despite the continued public opinion against funding legal aid, the growing concern in a number of circles is that without proper representation any convictions secured by the prosecution will be overturned on appeal. 

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Category: Crime

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