By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE question of whether three men convicted of a policeman’s murder had been served notice of the prosecution’s intent to seek the death penalty took up most of what was expected to be a sentencing exercise in Supreme Court yesterday.
In proceedings before Justice Roy Jones, defence counsel for Stephen “Die” Stubbs, Andrew “Yogi” Davis and Clinton “Russ” Evans argued that the death penalty was out of the question as the Crown failed to give notice of its intent to seek this sentence on the date of conviction – as outlined in directions by former Chief Justice Sir Burton Hall in 2006.
Director of Public Prosecutions Vinette Graham-Allen countered that the nature of the charges and particulars brought against the three men served as notice of the Crown’s intentions.
On July 25, Stubbs, Davis and Evans were each found guilty of murder in the March 1999 death of Constable Jimmy Ambrose and attempted murder of Constable Marcian Scott. Evans was separately charged with two counts of possession of a firearm with intent to put another in fear. He was found guilty on both counts.
Stubbs was represented by Murrio Ducille and Jerone Roberts while Davis and Evans were represented by Ian Cargill and Ramona Farquharson-Seymour respectively.
According to the evidence, Constable Ambrose and Constable Scott were shot at by Stubbs and Evans after a fight in a local nightclub. Ambrose was hit and died as a result of his injuries.
Evans possessed a firearm with intent to put Constables Frank Burrows and Calvin Robinson in fear of their lives.
All three men pleaded not guilty when the charges were initially read to them. The jury returned unanimous guilty verdicts on all counts.
The men were remanded to Her Majesty’s Prison until September 18 to await sentencing.
However, on September 18, it was revealed that the psychiatric report in the matter was not ready as a medical examiner claimed that the court’s request for a report came too late and to complete the report, would require three weeks.
At the time, attorneys for Stubbs and Evans submitted that the death penalty could not be considered because no notice was served.
The DPP disagreed.
Justice Jones stood the matter down to October 16.
Yesterday, Mr Ducille submitted that there was “absolutely no compliance with practice law” on the part of the prosecution.
Mrs Graham-Allen interjected and claimed that in the circumstances, the prosecution should be allowed to address the court first concerning their death penalty application.
But Mr Ducille said the prosecution has no say in sentencing, which is “strictly within the purview of the judge.”
Mr Cargill concurred and further submitted that the prosecution “ought to know that practice directions exist.”
Mrs Farquharson-Seymour referred to the case of Rees and others vs Crane (1994) in which a Trinidadian judge, now on the Bahamian Court of Appeal, laid out procedural guidelines concerning notice of intention concerning the death penalty.
She added that the practice directions since 2006 set out that the prosecution must produce, in writing, their grounds for seeking the death penalty – noting that the document served on the defence yesterday did not offer grounds.
Mrs Graham-Allen responded first to Mr Ducille, noting that statute law amended in 2011 allowed for the prosecution and defence to make submissions to the court prior to sentencing.
“Therein is the authority” the DPP said.
Responding to the other two attorneys, she referred to the case of Forrester Bowe but Mr Ducille objected, claiming she was going into substantive arguments instead of addressing the points raised.
Mr Cargill claimed the judge had stopped Mrs Farquharson-Seymour from delving into her case authorities, arguing that “Fair is Fair”.
Justice Jones disagreed with this claim and asked for the DPP to continue her submissions.
The DPP said the Crown had complied with the practice directions for notice of intention when it presented the particulars of the charges brought against the three men.
Asked by the judge if the statute law “supersedes” practice directions, the DPP contended that based on the guidelines in the Rees case, the Crown had served notice of intention to seek the death penalty.
Submissions on the matter are expected to continue today at 11am.