THE first witness was moved to tears Tuesday when asked about Tonia McDonald's whereabouts in the murder trial of Portland businessman Everton "Beachy Stout" McDonald and his co-accused, Oscar Barnes, in the Home Circuit Court in downtown Kingston.
When the prosecution asked the former employee of Beachy Stout where Tonia McDonald was today, he replied, "She's dead." Immediately after giving that response, he turned his back to the prosecution team and the rest of the court. He held his head down and sobbed in a fashion that caused trial judge Justice Chester Stamp to adjourn the matter until today.
The Jamaica Observer saw the witness wiping his face repeatedly with his hands while sobbing.
Tonia's partially burnt body was found slumped beside her razed car, her throat slashed, on the Sherwood Forest main road in Portland.
McDonald and Barnes are accused of conspiring to murder Tonia on July 20, 2020.
The witness took the stand again on Monday, following the dismantling of a previous seven-member jury in the case last week and the formation of a new jury on Monday of this week. The witness started to give testimony last week, but because the previous jury was dismantled, he had to start over with giving his testimony to the new panel of jurors on Tuesday.
The witness had the undivided attention of his former boss McDonald, the prosecution, the jury, and Justice Stamp as he gave his account of what he recalled of events leading up to the 2020 killing of Tonia.
He told the court that he had worked with Merlene McDonald, McDonald's first wife, in 2000 as a shelf packer at Shine's Supermarket and Wholesale in Portland. He said that soon after, he met McDonald when attempts had been made to remove bottles of rum from the store. The witness said when McDonald came to the businessplace, Merlene had pointed him out and told her husband that the employee had spotted the attempted theft from the establishment. McDonald allegedly commended him for his actions.
In May 2009, Merlene, who was 50 years old at the time, was gunned down at her home on Boundbrook Avenue in Portland.
The witness shared that after her death, his relationship with McDonald had developed into a type of father-son affair in which they shared a close bond and strong trust.
According to the witness, McDonald trusted him to carry out many important duties, including money matters, as well as opening and closing up the business place. He told the court that he was told to take home the keys to the establishment on different occasions.
He said that after Merlene's murder, McDonald gave him roughly $18,000 to take to a store and purchase a cellular phone for a female friend. He followed the instructions and after that, gave the phone to Tonia, who was then "a sistren who did not have a phone" and so McDonald had decided to buy her one.
He added that he saw Tonia again when McDonald brought her to the business place around September or October in 2009. From that time onwards, she would always come to the shop
Soon after, he said, Tonia and McDonald got married and she began playing a "boss" role in the business.
However, she and her husband, according to the witness, argued very often, mostly over his fears that she was entertaining other lovers. The witness claimed that McDonald had destroyed his wife's personal cellular phone on numerous occasions and accused her of cheating. He also claimed that on one occasion, McDonald had held her head and slammed it into a wall. According the witness's testimony, McDonald was a controlling husband who would take away his wife's phone from time to time and place her under restrictions.
The witness claimed that McDonald had unplugged a computer in the office because Tonia had been using Facebook. The witness also added that McDonald did not like his wife's friends because they were allegedly introducing her to other men.
The witness recalled that the relationship between Tonia and her husband had become so strained that he built a special office for her to stay and work, because he did not want to see her too much.
The witness is expected to continue his testimony when the case resumes today.