Jury could begin deliberating case of 9-year-old’s rape, murder on Friday
Westmoreland Parish Court, where the circuit case is being heard.

SAVANNA-LA-MAR, Westmoreland — Justice Courtney Daye is expected to wrap up his summation on Friday and hand the case over to a jury of six men and women who will decide the fate of a teenager accused of raping, buggering, and strangling to death a nine-year-old girl.

On Thursday, in laying out the guidelines that will inform the jury’s decision, Justice Daye noted that, while the accused has not denied having sex with the victim, he has not pleaded guilty to the three offences of rape, buggery, and murder. It is therefore left to the prosecution, he said, to prove its case.

He noted that the question of age and capacity to commit all three offences must be addressed. The boy, now 17, was 13 at the time the incident allegedly occurred.

“At some time in the past, it was the law that a boy under 14 could not commit the offence of rape or a sexual offence involving vaginal or anal intercourse; but that is not the law now. A boy under 14 years can commit the offence of rape and any other offence of sexual intercourse involving vaginal or anal intercourse. So this aspect of the law is relevant to count one and count two — rape and buggery. So he is charged for that and the law says he is capable of committing these offences,” the judge said.

He also instructed jurors on what the law says about the age of a child accused of murder.

“He is over 12, so he can commit murder…” explained Justice Daye.

Earlier in the day, as she completed her summation, Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Paula Llewellyn urged the jury not to let the accused get away with murder. She appealed to them to be guided by the evidence and let justice be served. She told jurors the evidence had shown that, apart from the accused — whose DNA was found at the scene — there was no one else with the victim at the location where she was sexually assaulted and killed.

On day one of her summation on Wednesday, the DPP had argued that, while the defence had highlighted the lack of DNA evidence linking the accused to the child’s vagina, “it is quite clear that the semen that was in … [the child’s] bottom came from ejaculation from an erect penis”.

“What did the scientists say? Whose profile was found there? How did it get there?” she continued as she built her case.

“... [The child], who is now dead, is not here to tell you what happened, but thank God the evidence and the science is what will speak for her,” said Llewellyn on Wednesday.

The defence, in its summary on Wednesday, had argued that investigators’ failure to take samples from another potential suspect has left room for doubt in the case against the boy.

“Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, if the police had gone through the relevant procedure of taking a sample of… [a man the boy named], quite possibly there would be a match. Because that was not done, there is a doubt,” said attorney Devon Brown.

In presenting his closing arguments to the jury, Brown pointed to an unsworn statement the boy gave in the presence of his lawyer, which pointed the finger at others. The teenager indicated that two men, one of whom he knew, were present at the crime scene. The man who is known to him had a “long machete”, while the other, who was masked, had a gun.

In his unsworn statement, the boy said both men forced him to watch as they took turns raping the girl. He also said he watched as the man with the machete strangled the child. When he took the stand on Wednesday, the boy repeated those claims. He said the men used condoms while violating the nine-year-old.

In his closing arguments, Brown pointed out that a report from chief forensic officer for the DNA unit of the Institute of Forensic Science and Legal Medicine Dr Crystal Beepot had indicated that there was no DNA evidence linking the accused to the vaginal swabs taken from the victim.

However, Dr Beepot had testified that the accused could not be excluded from being the source of the DNA profile found in the child’s anus.

In building his case about the possible involvement of others, Brown also pointed to a strand of hair — found on barbed wire at the crime scene — which matched neither the victim nor the accused.

The boy allegedly sexually assaulted and killed the young girl, whom he knew, after she accepted his invitation to pick apples as they walked home from school on June 5, 2018. Her body was found near a guava tree, which is about 15-20 feet from the apple tree. A post-mortem report presented in court last week showed that the child died of asphyxia caused by manual strangulation. She also had lacerations of the vagina and anus.

Anthony Lewis

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