Defence concerned about upcoming witnesses
MONTEGO BAY, St James — There may be rocky days ahead for the defence in the Shineka Gray trial. On Tuesday, Leroy Equiano, the lead attorney representing murder accused Gregory Roberts, expressed concern that one witness may be hostile to the defence while another had migrated.
“I have to express my deepest disappointment in the sense that they are relying on certain things that were done by that person. Certain things that are very, very adverse to the defence that had to do with what he said to him…,” stated Equiano.
His client is on trial for the 2017 murder of the 15-year-old schoolgirl. On Tuesday, hobbled by technical glitches that made it impossible to get through video testimony by Constable Omar Hutchinson, the case was adjourned until Wednesday when he is expected to appear in person.
Before proceedings ended for the day on Tuesday afternoon, Equiano also expressed concern about the availability of a police investigator who is listed as a witness in the case. It is understood that he resigned from the Jamaica Constabulary Force and has since migrated.
“How is it that there was a witness who said he observed certain things, several things…that remain outstanding…There is no indication in the notebook as to when this writing was actually done or if it is the same that was observed at the particular time. There is no signing of the date. So, what do we do with that piece of evidence if this witness is not available?” queried Equiano.
The Crown later tried to have the former investigator make an appearance in court, without success. According to Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Andrea Martin-Swaby, the witness was unavailable during court hours, between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm.
“In fact, what he was asking is if he could be accommodated at 8:00 pm but, My Lord, that is something that is virtually impossible, based on his new responsibility. And so, My Lord, in those circumstances [he] is not available,” she told the judge.
Martin-Swaby also noted that the defence had long been made aware that the former policeman had resigned and no longer lives in Jamaica. She said the hope had always been for him to give evidence electronically.
Gray, who was a grade 10 student, was found dead three days after being reported missing. She was last seen alive in Montego Bay while on her way home from the funeral of a schoolmate.
Roberts and his co-accused, Mario Morrison, were later taken in custody in connection with the killing.
Morrison pleaded guilty in September 2022 after entering a plea deal with the State and was sentenced to life in prison a month later.
A total of 16 of 18 witnesses have testified to date before a seven-member jury.