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Murder Trial Jury Split

By LAMECH JOHNSON Tribune Staff Reporter ljohnson@tribunemedia.net A HUNG jury has left the case of a man accused of sexually assaulting and killing a woman nearly two years ago open for retrial. The Supreme Court murder trial of 29-year-old Phillip McCartney was expected to be completed yesterday afternoon when the 12-member jury left court to decide if the defendant was guilty or innocent of killing Chrishonda Swain. However, the jury was evenly split on the issue with none of the jurors budging to change position to tip the scale in favour of the prosecution or defence. The prosecution alleged that on the morning of August 13, 2010, McCartney killed Ms Swain, whose body was found on a track road. Ms Swain, of Thatch Palm Avenue, Pinewood Gardens, was found in an area off Faith Avenue South just after 7.30am that Friday. According to testimony, the victim, along with two female cousins, had caught a ride from a club on Soldier Road with a man driving a Mitsubishi Mirage. The cousins, who lived 10 minutes walking distance from Ms Swain in Pinewood Gardens, were dropped off. However, Ms Swain never made it home and was later found dead by police. Testimony from pathologist Dr Caryn Sands revealed the cause of death to be "blunt force injuries to the head, torso and extremities". The physician said Chrishonda had received multiple cuts and bruises to her head, along with multiple skull fractures, muscle tearing and internal bleeding in the left eye and brain. The severity of the force injuries had caused her left temple bone to depress into her brain. At the close of the trial, defence attorney Ramona Farquharson-Seymour contended that the prosecution had not proven its case against her client. Mrs Farquharson-Seymour told the jury the only purported evidence against her client is an "alleged confession" and a "purported ID of Phillip McCartney's car". She added that DNA evidence did not put her client near the body of Chrishonda Swain and contended her client is innocent of the crime. Lead prosecutor Jillian Williams, assisted by Raquel Whyms, argued that the police performed well in their investigation considering the circumstances, and refuted suggestions the officers were not thorough or were trying to frame McCartney. She noted that he was not the only suspect questioned in connection with the incident. Regarding the claim his confession was forced, Ms Williams said a videotape of McCartney's confession showed otherwise. After Justice Bernard Turner spent five hours yesterday summarising the evidence given throughout trial, he excused the jury to deliberate and decide a verdict, which they did after three hours. However, when they returned to court, the foreman announced the 6-6 guilty verdict. To be convicted of murder, the verdict would need to be a unanimous 12-0. Had McCartney not been found guilty of murder, the next possible charged would have been manslaughter. Though this was not to be as the jury were hung on the murder verdict, which would call for a retrial of the matter. Justice Turner thanked and dismissed the two men-ten women jury. McCartney was remanded to Her Majesty's Prison.

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