Witnesses assigned lawyers

| 15/12/2009

(CNS): The tension was palpable in Court One in the Cayman Islands Grand Court on Monday morning when friends and family of Sabrina Schirn packed the public gallery in anticipation of the arrival of Lance Myles to give evidence during the trial of Randy Martin for the murder of 21-year-old Schirn. However, although Myles, who is serving a 20-year sentence in Northward, was brought to the court house, he did not appear in the witness box after it was decided he would require legal advice. Following discussions with both defence and crown counsel, the judge ordered that legal representation must be found for Myles to warn him of the legal issues relating to self-incrimination.

The defence has argued that statements taken by the police from Lance Myles (the nephew of Randy Martin) and his girlfriend during the investigation, but not put forward by the crown in its case, should be admitted in evidence as the team is suggesting that Myles, not Martin, is responsible for the slaying of Schirn in East End in March this year. David Evans QC and Adam King, junior counsel, maintain that Myles had both the opportunity and motive to kill Schirn and the lawyers would like to present what they say is evidence of that to court.

Having won their argument to have Myles testimony admitted, it was left to the judge to then call both Myles and his girlfriend to the court to enable the defence counsel to cross examine the two on the statements taken during the enquiry.

However, it became apparent that, given the line of questioning that the defence intended to take, both witnesses would require what is known as amicus curiae, or a ‘friend of the court’, which is essentially a defence attorney who acts as an advisor to the court on issues of law but who is not part of the specific case. In these circumstances the legal advisors will advise the witnesses on their rights with regards to not answering questionsshould an answer offer the potential for self-incrimination.

As a result of the decision, local defence barristers John Furness and Keith Collins were called to assist the court and assigned to the relevant witnesses. Given the circumstances and the unusual nature of the situation, Justice Charles Quin, the judge hearing the case against Martin without a jury, said he would allow the two amici curiae more time to advise their clients on the situation they faced before calling the witnesses before the court.

Quin expressed his gratitude to the two barristers who had agreed at such short notice to attend upon the witness and guide them through the legal ramifications of their appearance in the trial. “The court is grateful to you both,” said the judge. “We cannot underestimate the importance of your roles in this case and the advice you will give.”

As a result, Justice Quin adjourned the case until 10:00 am Tuesday when Myles is now expected to take the stand, having been advised of the fact that he will be challenged on the content of his statements given to the police during the murder enquiry, which the defence maintains, on the basis of telephone cell site information, are untruthful, as well as the threats he made, both on the voicemail and in person, to Schirn shortly before her murder.

Despite the unusual turn of events and the questions now raised by the defence’s position, the crown is maintaining that Randy Martin, who has pleaded not guilty, murdered Sabrina Schirn. The crown has not suggested in its case that there were any other assailants that could also have committed the murder alongside Martin or aided him in the crime. The charge against Martin before the court is for one count of murder with no lesser charges proffered as alternatives.

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