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Legal Challenge Over Witness Protection

By LAMECH JOHNSON

Tribune Staff Reporter

ljohnson@tribunemedia.net

TWO BROTHERS accused of murder intend to challenge on Monday the constitutionality of video-link evidence to the Court of Appeal after the same court granted the Crown prosecutor’s application to shield the identities of civilian witnesses set to testify against them.

Leroy Smith, 27, of Old Boat Alley, and Tony Smith, 26, of Kelly Lane, who are accused of the murder of Tristan Bartlett in February 2012, intend to argue that it goes against their right to know the names and other personal information about their accusers.

The Smiths were scheduled to stand trial on May 8 as they are accused of killing Bartlett, who was sitting in the driver’s seat of a green Honda when he was approached by five men, two of whom were armed with handguns.

The men opened fire on the vehicle resulting in the victim being shot twice in his head. A friend of the victim jumped into the vehicle and drove the man to hospital. He was pronounced dead on arrival.

Before the trial could start, however, the Crown applied to Senior Justice Jon Isaacs to shield the identities of civilian witnesses set to testify against the two brothers.

In a typical criminal trial, the accused or accused persons know the names and other personal information about their accusers.

However, amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code, which came into effect in November 2011, allow prosecutors to apply for anonymity orders for certain offences if witnesses fear intimidation or harm.

The judge, however, dismissed the application and was then informed by the Crown that they intended to appeal.

The appellate court, this week, reversed the decision and granted the Crown’s applications.

The Smiths, in turn, are now challenging the constitutionality of video-link testimony, the medium in which the protected witnesses would give their evidence.

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