By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE decision to order separate trials for two persons accused of the same crime is in the discretion of a judge, the Court of Appeal has ruled.
Justices Anita Allen, Stanley John and Neville Adderley issued the court’s written reasons behind their June 30 decision to reject the appeals of Ramond and Rashad Nottage for them be tried separately concerning the murder Akyto Samuel Smith on February 15, 2012.
Smith’s body was found by police, bound and gagged in the trunk of a car on Sir Milo Butler Highway.
Their application, argued by Murrio Ducille, had been made on the basis that not severing the trial in this case was an infringement on the two brothers’ constitutional right to a fair trial as the Crown’s case relied on the statement made by one of the two whose explanation for being present at the site where Smith was found allegedly incriminates the other.
However, the appellate court on Wednesday noted: “The decision to sever a trial is made by a judge in the exercise of his discretion.”
“Unless that discretion has been exercised improperly, the appellate court will not interfere. Further, the constitutional right to a fair trial is not infringed on by the refusal to sever an indictment, as such refusal cannot be considered so prejudicial that it would make the trial unfair,” the court added.
Between the Court of Appeal’s oral ruling in June and Wednesday’s written judgment, there was a hung jury on the murder charge concerning Ramond Nottage’s involvement.
However, he was convicted of armed robbery and in September, went on to be sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment for stealing the rim of a tyre from Akyto Samuel Smith.
His brother, 27-year-old Rashad was acquitted of the armed robbery and murder charges by the judge’s direction to the jury days before the case ended.