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Closing Arguments In Vasyli Case

Donna Vasyli

Donna Vasyli

By LAMECH JOHNSON

Tribune Staff Reporter

ljohnson@tribunemedia.net

A JURY yesterday listened to three hours of closing arguments from Crown prosecutors and lawyers for accused murderer Donna Vasyli as to whether or not they should find her guilty of her husband’s stabbing death at their home in the Old Fort Bay community.

The 12-member panel is expected to decide the 55-year-old widow’s fate during deliberations today, following three weeks of evidence concerning the March 24 murder of 59-year-old millionaire podiatrist Philip Vasyli.

The jurors will deliberate after Senior Justice Stephen Isaacs’ summation of the case.

Lawyer for the accused, Elliot Lockhart, QC, told the jurors yesterday: “Donna Vasyli has the right, in our system to remain silent and say absolutely nothing.

“She has nothing to prove. That is her right,” he stressed, adding: “Under our Constitution, the starting point is that she is presumed innocent.”

Mr Lockhart noted that the focus of Inspector Michael Johnson’s investigation “never shifted” from the idea that the killer was a part of the victim’s family.

“When one analyses the evidence, there are no eye witnesses,” he said, stressing that the Crown’s case is based purely on circumstantial evidence.

“But that evidence, at the end of the day, must satisfy you that this accused person is responsible for the crime,” the jury heard.

“We too have a theory about this case,” Mr Lockhart said, arguing that police “rushed to charge Donna Vasyli without fully investigating this matter as they ought to do.”

“We say they charged her and thereafter they sought to make a suit of evidence to fit her. We say that that suit does not fit,” the lawyer stressed.

Mr Lockhart told the jury that they had visited the scene a week ago and saw how accessible the Vasylis’ residence was.

“What they called 24-hour security at Old Fort Bay leaves much to be desired,” the jury heard.

Concerning the DNA evidence, the lawyer said: “The knife, which they say is the murder weapon, Donna Vasyli’s DNA is nowhere on this knife.”

He added that police also could not find “a single fingerprint of Donna Vasyli lifted from any part of the crime scene.”

Mr Lockhart told the jury they could also not ignore the evidence of pathologist Dr Caryn Sands who said that the victim’s wound was “possibly self inflicted.”

The lawyer addressed the evidence of Constable Jermaine Knowles who was the responding officer to the crime scene.

“He’s called to the scene of a serious crime, leaves his Maximus (K-9 partner) in the car and takes a scrap of paper instead to investigate,” the lawyer said, adding that what the officer wrote in his report and police diary were contradictory.

“In this report, he does not ask Donna Vasyli a single question about this fight he claims she told him of. She’s in his hands and yet he fails to ask important questions. He’s no baby policeman,” the lawyer stressed.

He invited the jury to acquit his client of the charge because the Crown’s case “logically does not stand up to scrutiny.”

In the afternoon session of the proceeding, Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions Neil Braithwaite told the jury that the person who inflicted the injury to Philip Vasyli “intended to kill him.”

He said the only contention between the two sides is “who did it?”

“That’s the real issue in this case . . .there was no direct evidence,” the prosecutor said. “We’ve sought to prove our case on circumstantial evidence.”

“They (the Vasylis) were the only two persons there,” the prosecutor said.

Mr Braithwaite said that the knife, the murder weapon, which was photographed, came from the victim’s house.

“The next circumstance is the nature of the relationship. The relationship was abusive. That comes from Donna Vasyli herself in the record of interview. That also comes from the statement of Myles Pritchard,” the jury heard.

Mr Braithwaite also said that while a lot has been said about the property’s accessibility, “police saw nothing disturbed inside the house.”

He said it was also “very convenient” that a man turned up on a jet ski at the jury’s crime scene visit, but said it was a matter for them to decide whether the property was easily accessible at night during a 12-hour beach patrol.

He also noted that both dresses taken from the accused had blood on them.

“There’s a number of theories by the defence as to how it got there but the fact is, the blood of the dead man was found on the dress of the last person he was seen with,” the prosecutor highlighted.

“Next we have the evidence of Officer Knowles. He saw Donna Vasyli in the main house and she said ‘we had a fight last night’. Knowles said he cautioned her and she again said they had a fight,” the prosecutor said.

He asked the jury: “What reason does Knowles have to lie? He doesn’t know Donna Vasyli.”

He said not to be distracted by the demeanour of the officer, who, in his opinion, “strikes me as a man more comfortable with his canine partner.”

“He’d written a comprehensive report. The defence said fight could mean anything. Donna Vasyli herself explained the difference between a fight and an argument in her record of interview.”

Mr Braithwaite said the accused, in her record of interview initially said she couldn’t recall this exchange, then said she couldn’t have said that to Knowles as she was distraught at the time and unable to speak.

Mr Braithwaite told the jury that she wasn’t in a tizzy when she told the gardener to calm down even though the gardener had informed her of what happened to her husband.

The prosecutor described her excuse as “nonsense” and alleged that the accused lied to police about cleaning the victim’s wounds when he fell down the stairs.

“The maid cleaned the wounds, not Donna.”

“ . . .She’s lying to cover up what she did to her husband, it’s as simple as that,” Mr Braithwaite said, adding that it’s interesting how “she spent the night at her daughter’s house the very night he was killed.”

Senior Justice Isaacs will begin his summation of the case at 10.30am today.

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