Christian Lloyd murder trial postponed for the sixth time

POSTED: 06/9/11 12:52 PM

Court denies request to release defendant

St. Maarten – The Christian Lloyd murder trial hit another snag yesterday when the Court in First Instance postponed it for the sixth time, because the defense still wants to hear two witnesses. Judge mr. M. Keppels set the new trial date for September 21.

The only defendant in the case, Anthony Ray S., a 41-year-old Jamaican who has steadfastly maintained his innocence, has by now spent more than fifteen months in pre-trial detention.

That was reason for his attorney mr. R.M. Stomp to ask the court to end or suspend his detention; prosecutor mr. B. den Hartigh objected, and Judge Keppels denied both requests.

One of the two witnesses the defense wants to hear is apparently not in St. Maarten anymore. This had made it impossible to serve him with a summons, Den Hartigh explained. The other witness did not appear in court.

Stomp said that his client is convinced that he’ll be able to prove his innocence through the statements of these witnesses. They are able to testify who went into the house of the murder victim on January 23 of last year.

Stomp said that it is “suspicious” that one witness apparently is not in St. Maarten anymore, that a policeman who was once in the picture as a suspect is no longer a suspect and that it is irresponsible to keep his client for so long in pretrial detention.

Prosecutor Den Hartigh said that the serious objections against the defendant’s release are still valid. “There is enough evidence to arrive at a conviction,” he said. “Under the victim’s body a piece of duct tape was found that contains DNA trace evidence of the defendant, while he told the police that he has never been in the house.”

Den Hartigh said that part of the reason why it is taking so long to bring the case to trial is that the defendant changed attorneys three times and that the defense had made repeated requests to hear witnesses.

Judge Keppels denied the request to end or suspend the pretrial detention, but she instructed the prosecutor to summon both witnesses again and to ask the Judge of Instruction to issue an order to bring the witnesses to court.

The prosecutor will once more investigate the whereabouts of the witness who is reportedly not on the island anymore.

Anthony Ray S. appeared in court for the first time on June 2 of last year. That day, the prosecution asked for a postponement, because the technical investigation was incomplete, as the prosecutor’s office was still awaiting results from DNA-tests by the Dutch Forensic Institute NFI.

S.’s first attorney, mr. G. Hatzmann pointed out at the time already that the case against his client was weak.

The prosecution’s argument was from the beginning that S. told several people that he killed Lloyd.

On September 22 of last year, the second postponement was necessary because Hatzmann had withdrawn as the defendant’s attorney after a disagreement about the way he wanted to handle the defense.

On November 18, S. appeared in court without a lawyer, reason for another postponement. Attempts to replace Hatzmann with mr. S.R. Bommel fell through, because one of her clients 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 handed over the case to mr. Stomp by then. He asked for a postponement on January 13, 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.

On March 30, Stomp asked for another postponement because two of the five witnesses had not been heard yet. That situation still existed yesterday –and it resulted in postponement number six.

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