Opinion: Acquitted

POSTED: 02/8/13 1:33 PM

Anthony Ray Spencer was acquitted of the murder on Christian Lloyd on Wednesday and not everybody is happy with it. Spencer was dumbfounded after the ruling and the jury is still out on the question whether the prosecution will take the case to the Supreme Court.

The acquittal does not mean that Spencer is innocent. It does not mean he did not do it. The appeals court considered that there is insufficient legal and convincing evidence. The judges found that the investigation had left a lot of loose ends – and that certain elements had not been investigated.

Bon, that happens. We hear that investigators will not always investigate everything. In every investigation there comes a moment when investigators have to make choices. Those choices are based on what detectives know at that moment, not on things that surface much later. There is also a drive to keep investigations cost-effective – something that may sound silly to people who love to scream blue murder about anything – but it is a reality we have to live with.

The acquittal is no doubt a victory for Spencer’s attorneys Remco Stomp and Cor Merx. But at the same time, the court ruling poses a truckload of new questions.

Like this one: will the investigation into the Lloyd-murder now be reopened? Answer: for the time being, we don’t think so. It really depends on how much prosecutors are convinced that Spencer is their man. If on the other hand the ruling has created doubts, a new investigation is still possible. But again: not very likely.

This situation leaves the family and friends of the victim out in the cold. First they thought they had found some sort of closure, when Spencer was arrested and subsequently convicted. They already experienced a shock when Spencer briefly escaped from prison in 2011, but he was recaptured. This week they must have experienced the shock of their life when they learned about the acquittal.

Their questions are legitimate: did the legal system just let a killer walk? And if it did not, what about the real killer? The family will relive the whole drama again and again without maybe ever knowing whether the man (nobody has ever thought this crime was committed by a woman) who took Lloyd’s life is still among us, or if it was Spencer after all, who will be deported because he was illegal on the island.

Our justice system seems to work just fine on many levels. And at a certain point, we have to live with the results of that system. But it does not mean that we have to like it.

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