Beachy Stout co-accused bail restored; wife happy
Wife of murder co-accused Oscar Barnes hugs and kisses him on Monday after his bail was restored by Supreme Court Judge Chester Stamp. (Photo: Jason Cross)

OSCAR Barnes, who was jointly charged with businessman Everton "Beachy Stout" McDonald for the 2020 murder of Tonia McDonald, had his bail restored on Monday in the Home Circuit Court, Kingston, during the start of a fresh trial in the matter.

Barnes' wife, on hearing the news, breathed a sigh of relief in court as she has not been able to spend time with him after getting married on Sunday, September 17, which was the day before his bail was revoked. As for Barnes, he smiled from ear to ear, oozing joy.

Judge Chester Stamp instructed that the same conditions, such as reporting time and curfew, which applied before his bail was revoked would still stand.

Speaking to the Jamaica Observer Barnes' wife said, "Oh God, the kids are going to be so happy! He has five of them. I am so happy. He is a family man. He is the type of father who studies with his kids. He is the one who picks them up from school. He goes to church every Sunday, but people don't know that."

Everton "Beachy Stout" McDonald and his wife, Tonia McDonald.

She was then seen, shortly after, tightly embracing Barnes who could not contain his smile.

Tonia, the woman who Barnes is being accused of murdering, was the second wife of his co-accused Everton to be killed.

Tonia's partially burnt body was found slumped beside her razed car on the Sherwood Forest main road in Portland on July 20, 2020, with her throat slashed.

Last week Monday a jury was empanelled and began to hear testimony from one of Everton's former employees, who was the first on a long list of witnesses in the case.

On the second day of the trial last week, one of the jurors did not show up and the matter had to be adjourned until Wednesday. On Wednesday when the matter returned, two jurors had to be dismissed as one of them was deemed to be in serious financial woes and would not be able to sustain his family if he was to continue serving until November when the trial is expected to end. The other juror has employment overseas and would not be able to receive approval from his job to be absent for such an extended period.

The process of selecting a new seven-member jury for trial on Monday was very lengthy. The selection process saw 12 people being eliminated as potential jurors in the case due to either defence attorneys or prosecutors objecting to them being selected or because of other reasons.

One of the potential jurors said she personally knew at least one party — either defendant or attorney — involved in the case and was therefore excused from the matter by Supreme Court Judge Chester Stamp.

Meanwhile, the foreman from the jury that was dismantled last week was about to enter the jury box to sit on the new panel but was told by Justice Stamp that he was already dismissed from the case. After that, there appeared to be a struggle to find one more person to make up the seven-member panel.

However, that was sorted out and the final person to complete the panel was selected.

The trial is expected to get underway today. Before it does, Justice Stamp will have to iron out potential problems with two of the new jurors. One of them explained she has a baby to take care of and that it will be difficult to get someone to fill in for her all the time when she is required to be in court.

Another juror expressed that she has heavy responsibilities at her job, leading up to the end of the year, and may be required to give attention to her duties on different occasions.

Justice Stamp told her that all employers must accommodate employees who have been called to serve as jurors, as is stipulated by law.

Both women were instructed to make the necessary applications to the court registry about whatever difficulties they may have.

Stamp told the members of the new jury that if they have pressing and urgent matters to attend to they must make it known so that arrangements can be made for breaks in-between the trial period.

BY JASON CROSS Observer staff reporter

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