Crown appeals Perez verdict

| 01/03/2010

(CNS): The Court of Appeal has agreed to hear the prosecution’s case regarding the verdict handed down by Justice Roy Anderson in the trial of Josue Carillo Perez for the murder of Martin Gareau. Justice Anderson found Perez not guilty in October of last year when he said the crown had not proved its case beyond reasonable doubt. As a result, the crown is now seeking to appeal that decision and if successful bring about a new trial. The three judges will hear Trevor Ward make the prosecution’s case to overturn the verdict on 15 March and Anthony Akiwumi, who representedPerez at trial, will defend the appeal.

Ward told the Court of Appeal on Monday morning (1 March) that the crown believed Justice Anderson had in his ruling “engaged in a speculative theory” that another assailant was involved in the murder. Ward also stated that the crown believed it had met the burden of proof. On behalf of Perez, who was not present in the court for the first hearing, Anthony Akiwumi said he would look forward to seeing the crown’s skeleton argument,which had not yet been filed with the court. Akiwumi said that he was surprised that at this late stage the crown seemed to be presenting what were “very bare grounds” for the appeal.

Perez was found not guilty of murdering 47-year-old Martin (Marty) Gareau during his trial in October 2009. At the time Justice Anderson, who sat as judge and jury, said it was plausible that Perez could have killed the Canadian national but the crown had not proved he was the assailant — just that he could have been present.

Aside from circumstantial evidence that connected Perez to Gareau, the crown’s case hung heavily on two bloody prints found at the murder scene on the door jam of Gareau’s home which were matched to Perez. The defence argued, however, that those prints could have been left at an earlier date when Perez had made a social visit to Gareau’s home for a barbeque with mutual friends.

The judge ruled that the crown had not met the burden of proof that Perez had wielded the weapon and killed Gareau. Justice Anderson said he also believed that the evidence pointed to another assailant being present. This, the crown claims, is speculative and it is this issue that will form the grounds for the appeal and what the prosecution hopes will lead to a new trial and another attempt at convicting Perez for the murder.

During the hearing Akiwumi made an application to the judges for a legal aid certificate in order to continue representing his client.

Gareau’s body was found in the garage of his home in Beach Bay, Lower Valley, on 20 May by a family member. The crime scene showed evidence of a considerable struggle and the deceased had received multiple blunt and sharp wounds. The pathologist stated that the fatal wound was a fracture to his skull.

The CI Court of Appeal spring session will sit through until 19 March hearing appeals regarding cases that have been heard in the CI Grand Court. The rulings of the Court of Appeal have considerable significance, not just on the specific cases but to set precedent with regards to the law in the islands. The three judges presiding over this session are President, Sir John Chadwick, Justice I Forte and Justice A O Conteh.

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