Murder retrial still in limbo

| 04/04/2011

(CNS): A second attempt to begin the retrial of William Martinez-McLaughlin for the murder of Brian Rankine-Carter failed Monday morning despite the selection of a new jury. Following legal complications, the judge ordered an adjournment until Wednesday when the ten women and two men are expected to hear evidence from the crown against the accused man, who has now been in custody for almost three years. Martinez-McLaughlin, whose conviction for Rankine’s murder was overturned last August, has remained in prison since he was first arrested for the crime in May 2008. He was convicted by a jury in July 2009 but a year later the guilty verdict was overturned by the Court of Appeal, owing to a misdirection by the trial judge.

Efforts by the prosecution to re-try the defendant failed in January this year when closed door legal arguments exhausted the allotted trial timetable. Further legal issues again halted proceedings this morning before Justice Charles Quin sent the newly selected jury away until 6 April. It took around 40 minutes and several challenges before twelve members of the public who were not connected in some way to the defendant, the trial witnesses, or the lawyers involved in the case were sworn.

During the original trial the crown had relied upon a combination of forensic evidence, expert witnesses and a key witness, who was later convicted as an accessory to the murder.

Jason Hinds, who testified that he was with McLaughlin-Martinez on the night of the killing and saw him attack the twenty-year-old Rankine-Carter, is a Jamaican national who was deported by authorities here after he had served part of a three year sentence for his part in the crime. The defence, however, has maintained since the original trial that McLaughlin-Martinez was the accessory and Hinds the murderer.

The murder was described at the time by the police as particularly brutal, as the young male victim sustained more than 48 wounds during what appeared to be a frenzied attack with a machete.

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