Christian Lloyd murder trial postponed for the fifth timePOSTED: 03/31/11 12:07 PM
Suspect awaiting trial in custody for more than a year
St. Maarten – On June 2, 2010, Anthony Ray S., a by now 41-year-old Jamaican, appeared for the first time in the Court in First Instance, charged with the January 23, 2010 murder of Christian Lloyd. Ever since that day, the case has dragged on from one postponement to the next one, and yesterday was no exception. For the fifth time, Judge Mr. M. Keppels, granted a postponement, this time until June 8. Lloyd was killed with a single gunshot at his home.
The suspect’s attorney, mr. R.M. Stomp, had asked the court during a January 13 hearing for a postponement to hear five witnesses. In the meantime, three of these witnesses have appeared in front of the Judge of Instruction, but the other two have not. Stomp asked the court to hear these witnesses, and two of the witnesses that have already testified at the Judge of Instruction, under oath in court.
Judge Keppels denied the request to hear the witnesses that appeared before the Judge of Instruction again in court. “The single fact that they were not heard under oath is not reason enough to hear them in court,” she said.
But Keppels granted the defense the right to hear the two witnesses that so far failed to show up at the Judge of Instruction. Earlier request for these witnesses to show up yielded no results. “If it turns out that they do not want to appear the Judge of Instruction can issue an order to bring them in,” she said.
Stomp wants to hear the witnesses to establish who has been at the house of the victim on the day of the murder.
Prosecutor Mr. B. den Hartigh did not object to calling up the two witnesses that had not appeared yet, but he had a problem with the request for the other two. “One of them testified before the Judge of Instruction and confirmed the statement he made to the police,” Den Hartigh said. “The other witness has been interviewed by the police twice.”
In June of last year, the public prosecutor asked for the first postponement. At the time, the technical investigation was incomplete, as the prosecutor’s office was still awaiting results from DNA-tests by the Dutch Forensic Institute NFI.
At the time, the defendant’s attorney mr. G. Hatzmann pointed out that the case against his client was weak. Robbery as a motive does not make sense, he said, because Lloyd’s credit card was found at the murder scene. Hatzmann also hinted that his client’s sexual preference did not make sense either: “If he had been afraid of that he could have simply gone back to Jamaica.”
The prosecutor at the time, mr. J.B.C. Develing (who has in the meantime returned to the Netherlands and is now working for the prosecutor’s office in Amsterdam) countered that all evidence in the file points to the defendant as the man who killed Christian Lloyd. S. was found in the possession of the victim’s expensive cell phone, which he claimed to have bought from a junkie. Develing said that this was not credible.
“Several people have stated that S. had confessed to them that he had killed Lloyd. He even announced that he was going to commit the murder because he needed money.”
When the case was back in court on September 22, another postponement was inevitable because attorney Hatzmann had withdrawn from the case. Shortly before the trial date he had a disagreement with his client about how to handle the defense, and this made it impossible for him to continue working for S.
On November 18, S. was back in court, this time without an attorney. Attempts to replace Hatzmann with mr. S.R. Bommel fell through, because one of her clients had made incriminating statements about S. Due to this conflict of interest, Bommel was unable to take the case. Searching for an alternative proved to be a cumbersome adventure, because the defendant “felt no connection” with the suggested attorney, mr. E.Y. Knoppel. In the end, the court found the dean of the Bar Association, mr. B.G. Hofman, prepared to defend S. But on November 18, Hofman was not available, and the court saw no other option than to move the trial to January 13 of this year.
Hofman had in the meantime handed the case to mr. R.M. Stomp, who asked for yet another postponement in January, because he wanted to hear fourteen witnesses, obtain a technical report about the murder weapon as well as a report about telecommunication traffic between the victim and his client, and have a report written about his client by the Rehabilitation Bureau.
Judge Keppels allowed five of the witnesses, denied the request for the rehabilitation report, and said that information about other witnesses would be added to the case file. The prosecution said it would provide the technical report about the murder weapon. The court postponed the trial until yesterday.
That this process of hearing witnesses was not complete yesterday is not due to the defense or the prosecution. The failure of two witnesses to show up voluntarily at the Judge of Instruction is the real reason for the fifth delay.
While the prosecutor’s office has maintained from the beginning that all information points to S. as Christian Lloyd’s killer, Stomp said in January that there are more suspects. He referred specifically to a relationship between two police officers and the victim and hinted that the weapon used for the murder could possibly have been a service gun belonging to one of these officers.