By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
LEON Romeo Rahming was found not guilty of the attempted murder and armed robbery of his sister-in-law who was discovered naked and badly injured in bushes in Freeport over a year ago.
He walked out of the Supreme Court a free man on Tuesday after the jury delivered its verdicts, acquitting him of both charges.
Rahming, who had spent over a year in prison on remand awaiting trial, was said to have been very relieved by the outcome and “thanked God.” Mario Gray represented him at trial and was pleased with the verdicts.
The jury of one man and eight women retired around noon and returned around 2pm, finding the accused not guilty of attempted murder by a vote of 8-1, and not guilty of armed robbery by a unanimous vote.
In June 2015, Maxine Clarke was discovered naked, with stab wounds about the body, in bushes near the Grand Bahama Academy School on Sandcombe Road. She was taken to hospital and rushed into emergency surgery, and remained hospitalised for 19 days.
Police arrested Rahming on June 5, 2015, in connection with the incident, and later charged him with attempted murder and armed robbery.
During his trial, Rahming denied the armed robbery charge, but admitted to stabbing the virtual complainant in self-defense after being attacked.
According to the prosecution’s evidence, on June 2, 2015, Rahming offered Clarke a ride and took her through a track road, where he robbed her of her handbag, containing cash, a Jamaican passport, a bank card, and cellular phone, along with other valuables, including a necklace and watch.
Ms Clarke testified in court that she had known the accused for about eight years and had been married to his brother. She claimed that her brother-in-law offered her a ride to Island Luck. She said he told her that he needed to extend his car’s rental agreement and went along with him.
According to her evidence, Rahming instead drove through a track road where he parked the car at a dead end and pulled out a knife. He grabbed her out of the vehicle, and ordered her to take off her clothes, she alleged, and told the court that she pleaded for her life.
Rahming, she claimed, then ordered her to sit down in front him and tried to break her neck. She ran off, but he caught her and stabbed her with the knife, and hit her in the head, she alleged.
Ms Clarke said she was left injured in the bushes and crawled a few distance towards a fence, stood on a stone and barely scaled the fence. Some persons at the school had come to her aid. Dazed and weak, she recalled someone covering her with a tablecloth and later being taken to hospital.
A police officer testified that he went to the Seventh-Day Adventist school on Sandcombe Road sometime after 8am where he observed a female being attended by EMS personnel. The officer said the victim had sustained injuries and appeared weak.
After receiving information, the officer went to a residence in Freeport where the accused resided. He testified that the accused attempted to flee, but was caught and cautioned, and then taken to the police station.
During the record of interview, the officer said Rahming admitted to stabbing Clarke, but denied robbing her. He was taken to hospital and examined by doctors, but there were no injuries. He then took police to the scene off Sandcombe Road, where he claimed he had thrown the knife in bushes, but police were unable to find it.
Ms Clarke’s Coach handbag, with her Jamaican passport, was found at West Beach Road by a male, who alerted the police.
Two doctors testified to Ms Clarke’s injuries, and said the virtual complainant would have died had she not received emergency surgery.
The defense denied the prosecution’s evidence, and claimed that Rahming was attacked and acted out of self-defense.
Rahming claimed that he picked up his sister-in-law around 1pm or 2pm on the day in question and took her to Island Luck as she asked to collect some money. She told him that the funds were not there yet and would be available around 5pm so they left.
Rahming said they got something to eat from the chicken shack on Settler’s Way, and went to a track road to eat. He said that he was also smoking marijuana at the time. Rahming claimed that Ms Clarke was texting on her cellular phone, but it started to rain and she went to put her phone in the car.
When she returned, he claimed that Ms Clarke started accusing him of stealing money from her handbag and demanded that he return her money.
Rahming claimed that Ms Clarke was the aggressor and started “acting crazy” and attacked him, throwing her handbag in his face and demanded that he find her money. He claimed that she “yuck off” her blouse and told him she wanted her money.
Ms Clarke, he claimed, then picked up a rock and hit him in the chest. He went to the car for his knife and as she rushing toward him he pushed her off with the knife in his hand, injuring her. Rahming claimed that Ms Clarke was not fazed and continued towards him and bit him. He said he stabbed her in the back.
Rahming claimed that the virtual complainant ran off in the bush and he threw the knife in the bush before driving off. The accused said he did not call for help because he did not know that she was seriously hurt. He claimed that she was still clothed when she ran away, and denied robbing the virtual complainant of her belongings.
Rahming also claimed that he was intoxicated and had drunk a few beers, two cups of rum, and had smoked some marijuana, and said that he might have done things differently.
Justice Estelle Gray Evans summed up the case on Tuesday morning, telling jurors “this is a case of whose version of events you believe.” She added that the two people involved were the only two witnesses present at the scene of the crime.
After the jury delivered its verdicts, Justice Evans thanked the jurors for their service to the court, and informed Rahming that he was acquitted of the charges and free to go.