By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
A MAN accused of killing his stepfather was acquitted of murder in the Supreme Court on the judge’s direction to the jury.
Yesterday’s acquittal of 27-year-old John Deieur followed days of legal discussions with prosecution and defence lawyers that were critical to the Crown’s case against the Hatchet Bay, Eleuthera resident who was accused of killing his 65-year-old stepfather, Alice Saintilma, between January 15 and 19, 2011.
Deieur was told that he was free to go if he had no pending matters or prior convictions for which he was being incarcerated.
Crown prosecutors intend to review Justice Vera Watkins’ ruling on the legal discussions before determining whether they will appeal.
The Tribune understands that the integrity of purported video and written confessions were at the centre of the discussions held in the jury’s absence.
Deieur was alleged to have intentionally and by means of unlawful harm caused the death of Saintilma, who was found dead inside a barrel left in bushes off a track road not far from his house.
The jury heard from a witness who said that he initially thought a foul odour coming from the barrel was that of a dead dog.
On the third day of observing the barrel, he noticed Haitian men approaching the bushes where the blue container was.
The witness said he did the same, where he saw one of the men crying before they left.
The jury also heard from a police investigator that Saintilma’s home, some 400 feet away from where his body was found, had appeared to be ransacked.
Following the 12-0 not guilty verdict, Deieur’s lead defence lawyer, Romona Farquharson-Seymour told The Tribune that her client was “quite relieved”.
“This has been an ordeal for him going on now since 2011, some three years and he just wants to go home. That’s it, he just wants to go home. But unfortunately as you see today, the judiciary and the prison are not in a position to determine when that’s going to happen,” the lawyer said.
“My feeling is that they ought to be released right then and there. However, there is a thinking (by authorities) that there are administrative issues that they have to take him back to prison and check their documents and whatever paperwork for them to sort out to verify whether or not they have anything pending, whether they are on bail, any other issues and then he’ll be released.”
“I’m of the mindset that it certainly should be done when a person’s matter begins before the court. The prison and the police should be very clear as to what matters they have pending, if any. In this particular instance, my instructions are that Mr Deieur has no other matters pending and he has no previous convictions and so if that is certainly the truth, then I’m of the view that he should be released if not right here in court, certainly at the Central Police Station.”
She recalled a similar case when her client, Billy Johnson, brought a claim against the government for holding him for six days following his acquittal of murder in 2010.
She concluded that the authorities should “ensure beforehand whether or not accused persons having any pending matters because if not, you’re locking them up again and restricting their liberty. And that certainly is a breach of their constitutional right.”
Viola Barnett and Patrick Sweeting prosecuted the case while Mrs Farquharson-Seymour and Candice Hepburn defended Deieur.