SUPREME Court Judge Justice Vinnette Graham-Allen on Wednesday issued new orders to attorneys involved in the pretrial hearings for Portland businessman Everton "Beachy Stout" McDonald, who is charged with the murder of his first and second wives, after their failure to comply with previous orders caused an adjournment.
McDonald was charged in February 2021 with the 2009 murder of his first wife Marlene McDonald. Investigators reopened that case in 2020 after he was arrested for the murder of his second wife Tonia in July that year.
McDonald is to be tried for the murder of his first wife by himself, but he and another man, Oscar Barnes, are charged in relation to his second wife's murder and will be standing trial together for that matter.
The judge, during plea and case management hearings for the matters on Wednesday morning, in noting that the matter has been adjourned on at least two other occasions to accommodate attorneys, was rattled when told that one set of defence attorneys were uncertain that full disclosure had been made in relation to Tonia's murder and that the Crown had yet to sit with the defence to go through the material for the case as she had ordered.
"I ordered that the parties were to engage in discussions before the plea and case management hearing date to determine whether the statements or facts can be agreed so [if it has not been done] how are we going to start?," she wanted to know adding, "This is called the plea and case management hearing court, nothing is supposed to be outstanding when the trial date is set and the case goes to the trial court."
Attorney John Jacobs who, along with Earl Hamilton represents McDonald, was, however, unable to answer the judge's questions, saying he was recently retained in the matter. Hamilton, the court was told, had indicated that it was likely that other statements were outstanding as well as a letter.
Said Justice Graham-Allen, "Look here, I really don't understand what's happening here, the court made orders and they have not been fully complied with. The discussion can't happen in court and that is why the Court made orders that the parties are to discuss the case before the plea and case management hearing. It's a waste of the court's time. The case is a technical one and so the parties have to sit down and discuss it before you come to court."
"It's wasting time. Disclosure is paramount and none of you, whether defence or prosecution, going to the trial court and say you never got this or that. This is the place where everything must happen, so that not going to happen, I'm not going to allow it. When the courts make orders unuh must comply with it," she added.
In rescheduling to next Thursday, October 6, she ordered that Hamilton be present and that the parties are to engage in discussions prior to determining whether full disclosure has been made. Secondly, she said the parties are to determine whether any statements or facts can be agreed. As it relates to the mode of the trial, she said the parties are to engage in discussion concerning the mode of the trial for the case. This, she said, should be done after the defence had ascertained from the client what their preference was. In making an order relating to the length of the trial, she said the parties are to discuss the length of trial so that the court can reserve the dates for the matter.
In the meantime, as far as the murder of Marlene McDonald is concerned, the court was told that representation in the matter had now been settled and Hamilton and Jacobs would also appear for the accused.
Justice Graham Allen, in relation to that matter, ordered that disclosure must also be settled before that hearing, which was also rescheduled to October 6.
The Crown on Wednesday indicated that it intended to call 25 witnesses in the trial relating to the murder of Tonia. That matter will be tried first.
On Wednesday McDonald appeared remotely via Zoom, while Barnes, his co-accused, was physically present. Barnes is represented by attorney Ernest Davis.