THIS STORY HAS BEEN UPDATED HERE
By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
DONNA Vasyli will learn today whether she will be released on bail ahead of her retrial on a murder charge.
Her retrial is scheduled for January 29, 2018, The Tribune understands.
Vasyli, 56, and her lawyers Murrio Ducille and Elliot Lockhart, QC, appeared before Justice Bernard Turner yesterday afternoon seeking a bond for the Australian widow a week after the Court of Appeal overturned a Supreme Court jury’s verdict concerning the March 24, 2015 murder of her millionaire podiatrist husband, Phillip Vasyli.
Though the bail hearing was held in chambers, The Tribune understands that Crown prosecutors Algernon Allen II and Destiny McKinney intended to oppose the application.
This was confirmed by Mr Ducille to reporters outside of court nearly an hour after the scheduled hearing.
“They’re objecting,” he said.
When probed on the basis’ argued by the Crown, the veteran lawyer said: “They objected on the basis that she’s a flight risk and previous happenings have shown that is really not a valid reason.
“She has substantial connections, had been on bail, and she adhered to the conditions strictly to the bail, so therefore that argument really cannot hold water because her previous conduct is suggestive of the fact that she has nowhere to go, the Bahamas is her home.
“She has made it clear that she’s ready, willing and able to face her accusers, and she has nothing to do but show up for her trial, her retrial, in fact, when it comes,” Mr Ducille added.
Vasyli was initially convicted in October 2015 of the stabbing death of her husband at their home in the exclusive gated community of Old Fort Bay.
At her trial before Senior Justice Stephen Isaacs, the jury saw Vasyli’s videotaped interview while she was in police custody. During that interrogation, a police officer suggested to the widow that she stabbed her husband for embarrassing her in front of houseguests while he was drunk. She strongly denied the accusation in the presence of her lawyers at the time, Mr Lockhart, QC, and Judith Whitehead.
During that interview, Vasyli told police her husband had been drinking and fell down the stairs – shattering glass from picture frames along the way – hours before his dead body was found.
She added he was walking around the house looking “disgusting” with his pants hanging down even though she told him guests were coming. However, she said, she did not argue with her husband.
She was subsequently sentenced to 20 years in prison.
On Tuesday of last week, the appellate court handed down a 71-page judgement in which they quashed the conviction and remitted the case back to Supreme Court for retrial.
Court of Appeal President Justice Dame Anita Allen was of the view that the jury was possibly left with the impression, as suggested by counsel for the prosecution in its closing address, that the appellant lied about her clothing and the functionality of the cameras to conceal the murder of her husband.
This, she said, resulted in a clear danger that the jury might regard the lies of the appellant as probative of her guilt and warranted the judge to give a Lucas direction on the significance of lies.
Justice Jon Isaacs expressed concern that manslaughter by provocation was not left to the jury as an option while Justice Stella Crane-Scott dissented on the necessity of a retrial entirely given the inconclusive state of the circumstantial evidence.
However, her colleagues believed a retrial was in the interest of justice.