Murder trial proceedings remain under wraps

| 04/02/2010

(CNS): The entire third day of the trial proceedings of Kirkland Henry and Larry Prinston Ricketts for the murder of Estella Scott-Roberts were held in camera on Wednesday as a result of the continuing voir dire requested by Ricketts’ defence attorney, Robert Fortune QC. A dispute over the admission of evidence has seen the lawyers question a number of key witnesses outside the parameters of the actual trial, testimony that cannot be reported on in the public domain.

Although the doors are not closed to the public sitting in, reporting and publication restrictions are imposed on the evidence before the special legal hearing and on the witnesses being called. This is to prevent undue influence before the judge makes a decision regarding the admissibility of the witness or evidence being questioned. Often referred to atrail within a trial, a voir dire is always held out of hearing of a jury in order not prejudice their deliberations.

In this case Ricketts and Henry opted for a judge alone trial so there is no jury to consider, however, the reporting restrictions remain to avoid misunderstanding in the community about what was valid evidence.  

Since the trial opened on Monday, the crown has called twenty of its prosecution witnesses, who have either testified in person before the court, which is presided over by Chief Justice Anthony Smellie, or have had their statements read aloud to the court. Solicitor General Cheryll Richards QC has another forty witnesses yet to either call to the stand or read before she closes her case.

Following the presentation of the crown’s evidence, the two defence lawyers will then have the opportunity to call any witness to support their case. If not, the three attorneys will move to their closing statements before the judge retires to consider his ruling.

Henry has been charged with murder, rape, abduction and robbery and pled not guilty to murder, but guilty to the other three charges and has admitted being at the scene when Scott-Roberts was killed. Yesterday, testimony from DS Marlon Bodden revealed how Henry had confessed to being involved in the crime but blamed Ricketts for the murder and the disposal of the body by setting the car alight.   Ricketts, however, has been charged with murder, abduction and robbery and has pled not guilty to all three.

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