By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
A TRIAL date in 2017 has been fixed for a man accused of sexually assaulting and killing a woman a decade ago.
Stephen Burrows Jr, the accused, appeared before Senior Justice Stephen Isaacs yesterday for fixture hearing concerning the August 2006 murder and rape of Veronica Smith.
Last week, Karissma Romer, associate of Murrio Ducille, appeared on the veteran lawyer’s behalf and indicated that Mr Ducille’s calendar for 2017 and 2018 was booked with November 19, 2018 and January 22, 2019 being the only available dates for the hearing of the matter.
Senior Justice Isaacs, however, said this was not acceptable given the length of delay in the case.
The judge instructed the lawyer to go back to Mr Ducille to make an earlier accommodation of the matter and set a fixture hearing for December 7.
When the matter was called yesterday, Ms Romer said that her senior proposed April 24, 2017 for the matter to commence.
The judge said this was acceptable and fixed a status hearing for April 3, 2017 ahead of the trial date.
Last November, Senior Justice Isaacs directed Burrows Jr to undergo a mental evaluation to determine whether he is capable of assisting in the preparation of his defence when the question of his fitness to stand trial had arisen.
The court had previously heard from psychiatrist Dr John Dillard that on July 3, 2015, Burrows Jr was treated at the Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre (SRC) in July 2014 for a psychotic episode brought on by marijuana abuse. When he testified, the doctor said that Burrows Jr was suffering from “persecutory illusions” claiming that his mother and lawyer were conspiring against him.
According to Dr Dillard, Burrows Jr’s condition improved after seven weeks of treatment. He said upon Burrows’ discharge in September 2014 he was considered fit to stand trial. However, the doctor said that he could not speak to the accused’s current state of mind since then.
A subsequent hearing was held on his competency to stand trial and a jury determined that Burrows Jr was mentally fit for trial.