Triple murder suspect could be tried without lawyer

| 21/03/2011

CNS):The man accused of murdering three people may have no representation if his first trial goes ahead next month as the prosecution hopes. Since October the crown has been trying to add Raziel Omar Jeffers (27) to a teenager’s trial, scheduled for April, for the murder of Marcos Gauman but Jeffers’ legal representation problems have caused delays. His co-accused, who is only 16 and cannot be named, has been in jail since his arrest in the immediate aftermath of the shooting 12 months ago. The boy, who is on remand, has already had one trial date postponed as a result of the crown’s desire to try the defendants together. The teenager’s attorney, Lucy Organ, revealed that she will be fighting the application to try Jeffers at the same time because of fears that his continued lack of representation could delay her client’s trial again.

Jeffers has already fired several attorneys because he says they were not coming to see him or helping him in his defence. He was warned recently by the court that he had to find representation. When he appeared in Grand Court on Friday, however, Jeffers remained unrepresented, and with the crown’s application to conjoin his case with the teenager, due this week, Jeffers may find himself weeks away from a murder trial with no lawyer. Justice Harrison, who is sitting temporarily in the jurisdiction, pointed to the seriousness of the offence, but against the backdrop of Jeffers firing counsel, an attorney would have to be appointed to him.

There is no compulsion for lawyers in Cayman to do legal aid or pro bono work, and as a result of the current uncertainty surrounding the management and payment of legal aid to lawyers, the pool has been stripped to merely a handful of attorneys that are willing to undertake criminal defence work.

However, there is a requirement for defendants facing murder charges to have parity of arms with the prosecution, usually conducted by the solicitor general, which means that they are often represented by local junior counsel, who in turn instruct a QC or senior attorney from outside the jurisdiction to work as the lead on the set legal aid rate of $135 per hour. It is unclear how Jeffers will now be represented in the forthcoming hearing when the crown applies to try him alongside the teen. If the crown is successful in joining the defendants, it remains to be seen if the trial will still go ahead as is currently scheduled in April.

Marcos Gauman was gunned down outside an apartment block in Maliwinas Way, West Bay, on the 11 March 2010, at a time when gang related shootings in Grand Cayman had reached frightening levels. The shooting occurred at around 7:30pm and later that same evening a teenager reportedly received a gunshot wound to his leg. The boy, who was fifteen at the time, was later arrested and charged with murder.

Jeffers is also accused of shooting dead Damion Ming some two weeks after the shooting of Gauman, as well as the killing of Marcus Ebanks and attempted murder of Adryan Powell in Bonaventure Lane in July 2009. He was not charged with Gauman’s murder until September 2010.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Category: Local News

About the Author ()

Comments are closed.