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St Thomas cop could face another murder charge

BY BALFORD HENRY Observer Senior Reporter

Thursday, September 06, 2012 | 7:01 AM    

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KINGSTON, Jamaica - Police Corporal Dwayne Smart could be facing two murder charges by the time the case of the murder of the 27-year-old St Thomas woman, Kayann Lamont, reaches the Home Circuit in Kingston.

Lamont was allegedly shot and killed by the policeman in Yallahs on Saturday night. But, at the time, she was eight months (32 weeks ) pregnant, way beyond the 24 weeks at which the foetus is considered a viable human being or capable of surviving outside the uterus.

The father of Lamont’s unborn child, Lenroy Dennis, says he not only thinks that the foetus should be separated from the mother for burial, but that they should be buried in separate tombs.

However, he says he has to discuss the matter with Lamont’s family.

Asked to comment last night, Public Defender, Earl Witter, told the Jamaica Observer that he not only sees nothing wrong with the mother and the unborn child having separate internments, but he also thinks that there should be separate compensation for the loss of lives.

“I am waiting to see how the DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions) frames the indictment,” Witter said, noting that medical science has established a point in pregnancy beyond which there should be no attempt to abort the foetus.

“The point of maturity of the foetus is clearly defined, and it is my view that an eight-month-old foetus is, unquestionably, a live being,” Witter added.

He says that his office is also concerned about the length of time between the shooting and dispatch of the mother, as this could have meant a matter of life or death for the unborn child.

He noted that the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s (JCF) Use of Force and Firearm Policy clearly defines “the dispatch or lack of it” by the police, in terms of getting medical attention for victims of police shootings.

Expert medical sources say that if the child is removed from the mother’s womb in time, after she is shot, it can be saved.

"At eight, nine months, maybe even seven months, if the baby is removed from the mother’s belly in less than five minutes, then the baby can survive," says Professor Horace Fletcher, gynaecologist and obstetrician at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI).

"Longer than that, then the baby may not survive or even if baby survive then he/she may come out with brain damage,” he added.

Witter however cautioned the public and the media against “convicting” the police corporal prior to the case being tried.

“Even as I understand how outraged the society is, we must be measured and responsible in our comments. He has not been convicted and he is entitled to the presumption of innocence,” he stated.

Witter also noted that his office is mandate to protect the accused and ensure a fair trial, which could be endangered by prejudicial or inimical public comments.

                                                       

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