Concerns raised over imprisonment without trial

| 19/05/2011

(CNS): The incarceration of a thirty-year-old West Bay man for well over one year without any sign of a trial date is “oppressive” and “unconscionable”, a local attorney has said. Craig Johnson, who is facing an accessory after the fact to murder charge, was arrested in April 2010 in connection with the murder of Marcus Duran in Maliwinas Way in March of that year. Although he has been in custody since that date, because of the legal representation problems of one of the men chargedwith the actual murder the authorities have not fixed a date to try Johnson for his role in the crime. The crown has also persistently fought his attorney’s attempts to have his client bailed as a result, the prosecutors say, of the severity of the crime.

Appearing in crown court last Friday afternoon, Johnson was again informed that it was still not possible to set a date for his trial.

The reason behind the delay is that Raziel Jeffers, the man the crown believes coordinated the plan to rob Duran and who had recruited both Jordan Manderson (who is currently on trial for the murder) as well as Johnson to execute the robbery, must be tried first. On-going legal representation problems for Jeffers, however, have led to constant postponements in the trial of the 27-year-old West Bayer, who the crown believe is the ring leader of this robbery which resulted in Duran being shot dead outside an apartment block.

Johnson is accused of driving Manderson, who was also shot at the scene of the murder, from the scene of the crime. However, Johnson has denied the charges, saying that all he did was merely pick-up the teenager when he saw that he was hurt on the roadside.

Anthony Akiwumi, who is representing Johnson, told the court on Friday that for being a “good Samaritan” his client had languished in jail for some thirteen months and still had no clue when he would be tried. “It is unconscionable that somebody should be kept in confinement unaware of his fate for this length of time,” Akiwumi told the court as he asked for his client to be bailed.

The lawyer explained that his client was a father of young children, had a letter offering him work once he was released from jail and strong family support willing to put up the financial bond.  He said that aside from the bond, his client could be electronically tagged and placed under curfew, which he said would be adequate measures to protect the public interest and ensure his return to court when a date could be finally set. “To keep him in confinement is oppressive,” Akiwumi said, pointing out that it went against all acceptable human rights considerations.

However, the crown insisted that the charges were too serious and that there was a significant flight risk given the severity of the charges and asked the judge to balance public interest against the difficulties the crown had in providing the accused with a fixed trial date. The prosecuting counsel said that there was significant evidence against Johnson, including telephone records connecting him to Jeffers and Manderson.

With Jeffers expected to return to court in June to address his representation issues and set a date for when he will be tried for the Duran killing, the judge said he would not yet grant bail to Johnson. However, he said he would reconsider the situation if after Jeffers’ next appearance the crown was still not able to set a date for Johnson’s trial.

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Category: Crime

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