Judge rules four men must face retrial despite 13-year delay
Livern Barett, Senior Gleaner Writer
The four men who have waited more than a decade to face a second murder trial for allegedly shooting to death an east Kingston man 17 years ago can still receive a fair trial, a High Court judge has ruled.
The ruling by Justice Courtney Daye came in response to an application by lawyers for Kimarley Cooper, Carlos Howard, Leslie Nugent and Damion Crossdale that their re-trial should be permanently halted.
The second trial was ordered in April 2005 after the first one ended with a hung jury.
The men, in their application, asserted that their constitutional right to a fair trial within a reasonable time has been breached and complained that it was an abuse of the court process for the prosecution to continue after the 13-year delay.
They complained, too, that during the 13-year delay at least three witnesses, including a police investigator, have died while others are otherwise unavailable.
However, while acknowledging that the delay was excessive, Justice Daye said in the interest of the public, the four accused men, the victim and his relatives, the re-trial should proceed.
"It would not serve the interest of justice for the victim and the accused to have this case unsettled after 13 years," he said.
Daye noted, also, that the main prosecution witness is available to give evidence.
"They [the four men] are not prejudiced to the point that they can’t get a reasonable trial," he said.
Jury selection is scheduled to begin Thursday.
Cooper, Howard, Nugent and Crossdale were arrested in 2001 along with Gary Cooke and Richard Peart for allegedly shooting Delroy Lawrence several times as he walked with his mother along York Street, in Franklyn Town, east Kingston.