ASSISTANT Superintendent Victor Barrett was yesterday acquitted of murder in the so-called Boulevard murder case, while a new trial was ordered for his two co-accused, corporals Louie Lynch and Paul Edwards.
The two will return to court on February 8 when a new trial date is expected to be set.
“This is a fair and just verdict from the evidence as it relates to Mr Barrett. The evidence has been impugned and shown to be unreliable,” said K Churchill Neita, QC, who appeared with Oswest Senior-Smith for Barrett.
The three men have been on trial since October 29 for the murders of Kemar Walters and Oliver Duncan, who were abducted from the Washington Plaza, on Washington Boulevard, on December 23, 2004. The prosecution had contended that Barrett covered up the crime after it was reported to him.
Barrett’s acquittal came five hours after jurors started their deliberations in the Home Circuit Court at 11 o’clock. But the foreman said jurors were not able to reach a verdict as it relates to the other men. The foreman told the court that seven of the jurors were for Lynch’s acquittal, while four said he was guilty. He said one juror abstained from rendering a verdict. As it relates to Edwards nine of the jurors felt he was guilty, while three felt he was innocent.
The verdict came at 4 o’clock and Justice Horace Marsh, after telling Barrett that he was free to go, sent the jurors back to deliberate further on Lynch and Edwards’ fate, saying that he couldn’t accept the verdict.
The jurors left the packed court at 4:12 pm for a second round of deliberations and returned at 5:31pm, but this time Justice Marsh said he would accept the earlier decisions and ordered a retrial.
Lynch and Edwards’ bails were extended.
Following the proceedings, the foreman described for reporters a deliberation process fraught with tension, which at times turned to hostility. “A battle line was drawn,” he said. “I could not support a verdict of guilty.” According to the foreman names like “idiot”, “monkey” and “fool” were being used by jurors to describe their peers during the process. “Some of us stuck to the facts, but some wanted to speculate,” he said. While the jurors were doing battle, the three police officers waited anxiously inside the courtroom as their bails had not been extended during that time. Scores of their fellow officers were on hand to lend support.
After court, Deborah Edwards (representing Edwards) said that her client was expecting a not-guilty verdict. She said, however, that he respected the process.
Attorney Valerie Neita-Robertson represented Lynch.