Defendant spent 35 months and 10 days behind bars: Court acquits Spencer of Christian Lloyd murder

POSTED: 02/7/13 1:06 PM

St. Maarten – Anthony Ray Spencer looked dumbfounded after he learned that the Common Court of Justice had acquitted him of the murder of Christian Lloyd on or around January 23, 2010. The Court in First Instance sentenced Spencer to 20 years on October 12, 2011. The court ordered his immediate release yesterday afternoon. Spencer spent 35 months and 10 days behind bars since his arrest on February 25, 2010 and he has consistently denied his guilt.

The verdict is a victory not only for Spencer, but also for his defense attorneys Remco Stomp and Cor Merx. The latter said yesterday that, in spite of the court’s order to release Spencer immediately, this is not happening, because the prison wants to hand him over to immigration for deportation. “If they don’t release him, we’ll start summary proceedings,” Merx said.

Asked if he would take a fortnight to think about the ruling before taking a decision about going in cassation to the Supreme Court, Solicitor-General Taco Stein declined to comment right away.

Spencer’s conviction in the Court in First Instance hinged on DNA-trace evidence investigators found on a piece of duct tape underneath Lloyd’s body and on the fact that Spencer was in the possession of the victim’s cell phone.

The Common Court wrote in its ruling that the duct tape only contained DNA from the defendant and not from Lloyd, while the prosecution had painted a scenario whereby Lloyd had been tied with the duct tape.

The presence of the duct tape at the murder scene does not prove that Spencer was at the victim’s house at the time of the murder, the court ruling states.

“That he was found in the possession of the victim’s cell phone three weeks after the murder results in a serious suspicion, but no proof that the defendant killed the victim,” the court ruled.

It stated furthermore that Spencer explained how he obtained the phone already upon his arrest in 2010, but that this explanation was only investigated in January of this year.

Spencer claimed that he had bought the phone from a junkie in Dutch Quarter. “The investigation did not yield indications that support the defendant’s explanation, but it is also not possible to establish based on this investigation that what he stated has to be dismissed as insufficiently plausible,” the court ruled.

The court also pointed out that the autopsy on the victim had not established that the wrists or other parts of the victim’s body had been tied down with duct tape. The court accepted Spencer’s explanation that he had used duct tape to tape the broken window of a car Lloyd was using. “It cannot be excluded that the defendant’s DNA landed that way on the duct tape.”

The extensive investigation at the murder scene into biological trace evidence and DNA-research had not yielded other results that point towards the presence of the defendant at the crime scene.

During the investigation, several suspects appeared on the police radar. The appeals court points out in its ruling that there are several scenarios possible. The involvement of a close acquaintance of the victim is plausible, the ruling states. In spite of this, the decision was taken to focus the investigation on Spencer.

The DNA-research was limited to comparisons with material from Spencer and two others, but not with other suspects. The blood traces in the car of another co-suspect who seems to have been a close acquaintance of Lloyd have also not been examined. This close acquaintance is one of three “criminal ex police officers” as attorney Remco Stomp said during a court hearing in September 2011. One of the three is reportedly ex policeman Germain E.H.S.

Considering all these loose ends, the Common Court ruled that there is insufficient legal and convincing evidence for a conviction.

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