Martinez refused bail

| 11/10/2010

(CNS): William McLaughlin Martinez will be staying in jail as he awaits his murder retrial on 17 January of next year. The man whose conviction for the killing of Brian Rankine Carter was overturned by the Court of Appeal this summer was refused bail by Justice Smith on Monday morning. Despite arguments from his attorney that the case against Martinez had been weakened as a result of the of appeal court’s decision, the judge said he believed Martinez would fail to appear for that trial if granted bail. Nicholas Dixie, counsel for the defence, had argued that the crown’s main witness in the case had been discredited, but the judge told the court he believed the crown had a strong case.

The judge stated that the crown’s case was cogent, and while Dixie claimed the witness was discredited, there was strong evidence in the case and Martinez faced a life sentence if found guilty. “It would seem, therefore, that the applicant would have a strong incentive to be absent,” the judge stated as he denied the bail application.
Although it is normal practice in the Cayman Islands that people charged with murder are not bailed, Dixie had pointed out in his arguments during the bail application that this ran contrary to the presumption of innocence. The defence attorney had told the court on Friday that the reasons behind the Cayman Islands Court of Appeal’s decision to overturn the murder conviction had undermined the crown’s key witness, Jason Hinds, and that his client had no previous convictions.
Dixie argued that the murder case against his client was one that boiled down to two people — one who was a murderer and one who was a coward — and it was apparent that the jury in the original trial did not necessarily believe that it was Hinds who was the coward and his client the murderer. The case against his client, Dixie claimed, was far weaker since the conviction was quashed nor was there any certainty that Hinds would even be at the trial, and he asked the court to remember that everyone had theright to bail whatever the crime.
Hinds, the prosecution witness who was convicted of accessory after the fact in the case, was released from Northward Prison and deported to Jamaica just before Martinez’ conviction was overturned by the Court of Appeal.
Crown counsel Tanya Lobben said on Friday that Hinds would be returning to the jurisdiction for the retrial but because he had been deported there was a process that needed to be followed in order for him to legally return to the Cayman Islands to give evidence.
She had asked the court not to offer bail to the defendant as she said a jury had already convicted him once and there was strong evidence against him. She said the misdirection by the judge did not undermine the strength of the crown’s case against Martinez.
The crown alleges that Brain Rankine Carter 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 whose naked body was found in a parking lot in McField Square in 16 May 2008. Forensic experts during the trial revealed that there were more than 48 injuries to the victim’s body which had been administered with a machete and something akin to an ice-pick.
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