By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
ONE of two brothers arraigned yesterday in connection with a fatal shooting at the exclusive Palm Cay community in eastern New Providence claimed he received “death threats” due to the publicity over the incident.
Dwayne Heastie was brought to tears near the end of his arraignment before Chief Magistrate Joyann Ferguson-Pratt when he was informed that the court had no jurisdiction to consider bail. He was charged with his brother, Samuel Heastie, 36, in connection with the September 18 murder of Jean Richmond.
Before the arraignment, 39-year-old Dwayne Heastie was chastised by the chief magistrate who asked him if he realised he was “in a court of law” for smiling as he entered the courtroom.
“This is not the place or the time for you to be showing your teeth,” the judge said to the accused.
His demeanour changed by the end of the hearing, however, when the contractor, moved to tears when informed that he and his brother would be remanded to prison, was asked if he had anything to say.
He said “sorry” before explaining that he “received death threats because of the public opinion”.
“I’ve been told on multiple occasions that people are going to try and destroy our lives by killing us for what they saw on social media,” the elder brother added.
In yesterday’s arraignment, the Heasties were charged with murder, possession of an unlicensed shotgun and possession of ammunition.
It is alleged that the pair, concerned together, intentionally caused the death of Richmond.
It is further alleged that they were in possession of an unlicensed 12-gauge shotgun and six shotgun shells for the weapon, neither of which they were legally authorised to possess.
They were not required to enter a plea to any of the charges. Police prosecutor ASP Clifford Daxon said the Crown would fast-track the case to the Supreme Court for trial on November 9.
However, the accused men’s lawyer, Krysta Mason-Smith raised a number of concerns to the chief magistrate’s attention.
“With respect to Samuel, he has been denied access to counsel on the date of arrest. I personally went to have communications with him, as afforded to him by the Constitution and I was not allowed access,” she said.
She said police only briefly allowed her to speak with him at the Elizabeth Estates Police Station before he was questioned at the Central Detective Unit.
“I was present in the waiting area at CDU and he repeatedly (said) that he wished to speak with me and he was not allowed to. That did not happen until the record of interview was completed in my absence,” the court heard.
“The second thing is that there’s been much talk about this matter and I am going to ask the prosecutor to have the Office of the Attorney General review this matter as I do believe these men, based on my information, ought not to be here before this court on this charge, particularly the first charge (murder),” the attorney said.
“The last thing is that these men are certainly desirous of having their names cleared,” Ms Mason-Smith added.
She asked the court if a status hearing could be set before the November 9 date where it would be determined if the current charges would proceed as they are or will be changed.
“These men have troubled myself and their family with this situation. They’ve never been exposed to this sort of environment your worship. In fact, they have clean records and we have a real concern on how this situation is affecting them mentally. The only thing I can ask at this juncture is to allow a therapist to come and see them with regard to their mental health.”
Chief Magistrate Ferguson-Pratt said that she has heard nothing of the matter except what was on the indictment.
“I limit myself to what I hear on the news,” the judge said. “As you can imagine the kind of day I deal with here, I don’t want to have to deal with that on the news.”
The judge, however, requested that the Crown review the file to determine if the brothers have a case to answer.
A status hearing was set for October 13, a month before the fixed VBI presentation.
The judge said she would forward the death threat allegations to officials at the Department of Correctional Services.