Photo Credit: BVI Platinum News
Justice Albert Redhead has ruled in favour of the defence for the indictments in the murder of Keri Harrigan and the conspiracy to murder Melbourne Francis to be severed. The ruling came this afternoon, February 19 following an application by Attorney-at-law Patrick Thompson, on behalf of his client Allen Baptiste.
Rodney Simmonds Jr. and Yan Edwards are charged with conspiracy to murder Francis on March 13, 2011 at Nottingham Estate, while Edwards and Baptiste are charged with the murder of Harrigan, known as Hank, in the area of the Long Look Clinic on March 16, 2011.
After the selection of a nine member jury, lawyer Thompson made his application and the prosecution responded; however, Justice Redhead ruled that the murder and conspiracy charges are to be severed. This means that the prosecution can no longer have the men tried for both charges during this trial.
Senior Crown Counsel Valston Graham indicated that the crown will proceed with the murder trial first, which means that when the trial commences tomorrow, only Edwards and Baptiste will be in the prisoners' dock.
This prompted Simmonds Jr.'s lawyer, Dr. JS Archibald, QC to state that he will be making an application for bail for his client when the time comes. This, he said, is based on how long the crown will take to have the conspiracy to murder trial heard.
Lawyer Stephen Daniels, who is representing Edwards, said he will be unable to have the trials back to back since his client is charged with both counts. He said the case is a legal aid one and pointed to economics, noting that he is basically the only lawyer at his office. He suggested a date later in March or probably have the conspiracy to murder trial traversed.
During the last criminal assizes, the Judge was forced to dismiss the jurors twice in three days, very early into the trial due to a jury issue.