By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Court of Appeal yesterday probed the necessity of an affidavit filed by a woman who is contesting a jury’s verdict that the shooting death of her husband was not accidental or in self-defence.
Mikiko Black, 28, was due to appear in the appellate court for the expected hearing of her appeal against a manslaughter conviction concerning the death of Leonardo Black, a Royal Bahamas Defence Force officer.
However, she was not present for the hearing as she was not brought from the Department of Correctional Services despite an order for her attendance sent by the court.
Nonetheless, Justices Dame Anita Allen, Jon Isaacs, and Stella Crane-Scott made inquiries of Black’s lawyer, Romona Farquharson-Seymour, concerning an affidavit in Black’s name that was filed in the court with amended submissions concerning the appeal.
Mrs Farquharson-Seymour said one of her client’s complaints is that she was not afforded a proper defence concerning witnesses that could speak to the physical abuse she endured in her marriage.
Justice Isaacs, however, questioned why this was necessary.
“Obviously the jury must have accepted the evidence leading to a conviction for murder instead of manslaughter,” Justice Isaacs said.
“There’s no dispute that she killed him so what is the complaint?” Court of Appeal President Justice Dame Anita Allen asked.
“The dispute is whether it was an accident,” the lawyer answered.
She noted that the court had not directed important points concerning this evidence to the jury.
Franklyn Williams, Crown respondent and deputy director of public prosecutions, questioned the relevance of this in summations.
“A judge is not required to direct on a defence which is not reflected in the evidence,” Mr Williams said.
Mrs Farquharson-Seymour said this was relevant because it was connected to another complaint of her client that her then-attorney, Moses Bain, was not provided adequate time for the trial.
“This matter was given to Mr Bain two days before the start of trial. It’s on the record he was seeking more time,” the lawyer noted.
“There’s no dispute that she killed him though,” Justice Allen said.
Mr Williams took exception to the apparent implication of the appellant’s counsel that the trial attorney was not effective in his duties. He noted that Black had stood trial for murder and that the appellant was convicted of the lesser charge of manslaughter.
“He certainly wasn’t incompetent,” Mr Williams noted.
Justice Allen said the complaint still does not change the fact that there was no dispute that the convict killed her husband.
Mrs Farquharson-Seymour said her client’s statement makes mention of a struggle and the gun going off.
Justice Crane-Scott suggested to appellant’s lawyer that some grounds were not explicitly clear and required further amending.
As the matter could not proceed in the absence of the appellant, the court adjourned the substantive hearing to April 26.
The widow had denied the murder charge she initially faced and maintained that her actions on the night of April 19, 2010 were not intentional.
On that night, at the couple’s apartment on the corner of Boil Fish Drive and Adderley Terrace, off Faith Avenue, police found the body of the 27-year-old marine with gunshot wounds in the left side of his face.
The accused was arraigned four days later and her trial began on July 1, 2013.
Black testified that before the shooting, she and her husband had been evicted from three apartments because of domestic disputes and fights.
Black said that on the day in question, she and her husband got into an argument that turned physical.
While in the living room, both Blacks reached for a weapon and she claimed she only recalled a shot going off and then her husband falling to the floor, the court was told.
On July 23, 2013, a jury found Black not guilty of murder, but guilty of manslaughter.
Six months later, in January 2014, Justice Vera Watkins ruled that she would not get the probation that her then-lawyer Moses Bain sought.
Instead, a custodial sentence of 14 years imprisonment was considered appropriate in view of the fact that she had expressed no remorse or sympathy.