COMMENTARY: Bodyless Murder Trials

The content originally appeared on: Antigua News Room

BY Rawlston Pompey

Down through the pages of history, those that ruled society, knew of the value of stability and orderliness society. They also knew of the unpredictable, vicious and barbaric nature of humans. They knew that humans may not only kill with impunity, but also out of malice and hate. And likened to war, they knew that as situations in life changed, circumstances may dictate that ‘innocent and not-so-innocent,’ man must die. Some for reasons of survival and some, retaliation and vengeance. Given these realities, they knew that in order for human behavior to be controlled and ‘Crime and Violence’ be curbed, it was essential that a ‘Social Order’ be established, sustained by the ‘Rule of Law,

HELL, AND HORROR

Fear-stricken and helpless, the citizenry has observed, and continue to watch in perplexity, utter disgust and dismay, crimes of one kind or another, being perpetrated across the nation. More frightening, they have heard of persons disappearing from society without a trace. People have seen violence of unimaginable consequences being unleashed with impunity. These seem not reflective of that which may have been conceptualized as ‘Social Order’ These have given the unmistakable appearance of ‘Hell and Horror.’ Streets, as well as communities have been turned into gun battle grounds.  There have also seen running gun battles either with gang members or with members of the ‘Security Forces.’ Through targeted killings, lives have been snuffed out.

FUNCTIONAL COOPERATION

Carefully considered, administrators and legislators determined that to ensure societal control, establishment three institutions; (i) ‘The Judiciary; and (ii) ‘Criminal Justice System.’ There were to be an environment that supports ‘Functional Cooperation’ between these institutions. There were to be powers, some inherent and some by statutory provisions. For instance, those sitting on ‘Supreme Court Benches,’ shall be free to inflict punishment, not only as citizens demand but as the seriousness of the crime demands, guided only by punishment statutorily stipulated. Thus, penalties shall be handed down to reflect; (a) The gravity of the crime; and (b) Society’s satisfaction.’ While society ‘Rejoice,’ the criminal population shall ‘Revulse.

PERSPECTIVE

This commentary is comprehensive. It provides a professional perspective on; (a) ‘Bodyless Murder Trials.’  It specifically looks at a similar trial of; (i) ‘Murder-Convicts- ‘The Perry Trio’ and their fatal punishment for allegedly murdering a 70-year-old senior British citizen. Subsequently the ‘Wrongly Presumed Murdered’ senior ‘Re-appeared,’ but certainly not from the grave [UK:1660 – 1662]; (ii) That of Vybz Kartel.’ It will have been also observed that ‘Bodyless Murder Trial,’ though not occurring with increased frequency, such cases have been successfully tried. This has been the case in several ‘British Commonwealth’ jurisdictions and Republics, including: ‘China; [Oct 13 1994]; and the United States of America’ [1858].

BODYLESS MURDER TRIALS

It also looks at the imminent ‘Bodyless Murder Trial’ of murder-accused ‘Mikhail Gomes 34’ (not yet Wikipedia Listed).’ His Case remains under judicial consideration and adjudicating competency of His Lordship, Justice Colin Williams’ [Trial Date: October 19, 2022]. In memory of ‘Vincia James 26’ [ANNU: 1991 – 2017]. Moreover, even as the investigative team reportedly recovered some ‘23 bodies,’ forensic analysis reportedly, provided no evidence capable of identifying the deceased. The Prosecution led evidence through lead investigator, ‘Deputy Superintendent Vernal Thompson’ [SKBVibes: August 14, 2014].

MOBBED AND TRIED: SCRIPTURAL ACCOUNT

Reflecting on ‘Biblical History,’ in living memory, the region has seen some of the most intriguing prosecutorial exploits. Some of which seems reminiscent of the experiences of ‘Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God.’ Back then, the Scripture edifies that biblical character ‘Pontius Pilate,’ the Roman Governor, subjected ‘Him’ to the indignities of that which is capable of being described as a; ‘Street Mob Trial.’ He committed no sacrilegious or blasphemous or treacherous or vile and evil acts. Falsely accused, witnesses falsely testified against ‘Him.’ Mobster-like, ‘He’ was tried and found faultless. Though not declared ‘Not Guilty,’ without evidence of wrongdoing, ‘Pilate’ handed ‘Him’ over to the ‘Mobsters who nailed to a ‘Wooden Cross.’ He’ profusely bled and quietly died.’ [Roman Governor: 26-36:  CE]. The, ‘Mob’ ruled. So, the story has been told [NIV: MATHEW 27].

PREGNANT WITH TRAVESTY

Now, to appreciate the ‘Nature of Things,’ is to have an understanding of their designed or intended purposes. The same is true of ‘Criminal Evidence and Procedure.’ Not infrequently, even when officers of the Courts gave reasonable and proper directions to Juries. And not infrequently, ‘Defence Attorneys’ have found themselves, not only under instructional obligations, but also the ‘Guillotine.’ They will have been further retained to institute proceedings at another avenue to address verdicts that that may have been perceived as ‘Pregnant with Travesty.’ These ‘Officers of the Court’ have no recourse, could seek no redress and they get no respite. They know, it is among the hazards and nature of the job.

INTERPRET AND EXPLAIN

That which the overwhelming majority of Jurors seems not to know, is that in all ‘Jury Trials,’ is that ‘Adjudicators’ are charged with the responsibility to ‘Interpret and Explain’ to ‘Juries,’ what the ‘Law’ stipulates. The average citizen appears not to know; (i) ‘Who are the ‘Sole Judges of Facts; and (ii) Who are the ‘Sole Judge of Law.’ That which they shall know, is that the fine looking ’12-member panel that sits across the Courtrooms listen to ‘FACTS.’ They, retain and internalize. Then upon retirement, they become ‘serious-minded, as they rationalize, consider and return verdicts of either; (a) ‘GUILTY: or (b) NOT GUILTY.’

ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE

Though it is all about the ‘Administration of Justice,’ serious-faced Crown Prosecutors, look forward only to hear the former. The desire is to obtain convictions. They are likened to some law enforcers- ‘Arrest and prosecute and hope for ‘Conviction and Incarceration.’ The latter has never been the training. Those officers ‘Sir Wright F. George’ had instilled in the minds of officers he trained (Cardinal King/Rawlston Pompey et al), that ‘Conviction and Incarceration,’ are the considerations of those that adjudicate. It would not only have been remiss not to point this out, but also a ‘Travesty’ not to do so. On the other hand, ‘Defence Attorneys,’ are usually the most anxious. Their ‘HOPE’ is built on nothing else, but ‘Jesus Blood and Righteousness.’

JUDGES OF LAW

With their client’s interests at heart, in complete silence, they pray only for the latter. Then unobserving, with eyes transfixed to the ceiling, they are hoping that ‘God is Watching.’ Some do not know that ‘God’ has no interest in ‘Court Room Drama’ – only the ‘Justice.’ The ‘Guardian Angels’ are the ‘Judges’ themselves. As it affects ‘Judges of Law,’ the serious-faced, but fine looking, learned and distinguished officers of the Court, give ‘Judicial Directions,’ only on as issues of ‘Law’ arose and explanations of it, as clarity and understanding, demand. Then having given appropriate warnings, Juries either left ‘Crown Prosecutors and Defence Counsel,’ to place ‘Adjudicators on ‘Appellate Notice’ for ‘Verdicts’ they did not consider.

KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING

Frequently, lack of ‘Knowledge and Understanding’ of the ‘FACTS’ by ‘JURIES’ have often been seen as having consequences to both victims and accused. Such, ultimately were not only seen as fatal to the administration and ‘Dispensation of Justice,’ but also bad for inspiring public confidence in the ‘Judiciary.’ After a criminal trial for an offence under the ‘Sexual Offences Act,’ ‘His Lordship, Justice Redhead’ (deceased)’ [March 6, 2019], appeared to have shown little tolerance to the attitude of ’10 members of the sitting Jury.’ Seemingly, they may have impressed the Court that they possessed mental traits likened to ‘Kangaroos.’

APPELATE SCRUTINY

That which ‘His Lordship’ may have overestimated were presumed attributes of; (a) ‘…High intelligence quotient (IQ); (b) …Deep sense of discernment; (c) …Power of reasoning: and (d) …Ability to comprehend the directions of Trial Judges; (d) …Capacity to draw reasonable inferences; and (e) …Ability in collectively and unanimously reaching informed verdicts.’ Judicial records may show that which descended upon ‘10 Jurors.’ When ‘Juries’ appeared to have ignored ‘properly-given directions, not only that ‘Judges’ fumed, but also their own verdicts are likely to be subjected to appellate ‘Scrutiny and Doom.’ Some Jurors were known to have invited and incurred the ‘Wrath of the Judiciary.’

BLATANT TRAVESTY

His Lordship may have thought that they had experienced a ‘Figment of Imagination.’ Judicial records may show that a trial involving two juveniles (male/female 18 and 13),’ ‘His Lordship, Justice Albert Redhead’ adjudicated. He was not starved of knowledge of what the case was all about. The judicial records may show that a ‘Majority Not Guilty Verdict’ was returned. Mindful of ‘Blatant Travesty’ and the administration of justice, he reportedly slapped a ‘Lifetime Ban’ on ‘10 of the 12-member Jury.’ This resulted, in spite of painstaking efforts explaining pertinent legal issues and warnings necessary to guide their understanding of law.

COURT AND ZOO

Incidentally, the ‘two Jurors that saw a ‘Guilty Verdict’ were females. It appeared that the duo may have understood ‘His Lordship’s explanation of the relevant points in law, Directions and Warnings,’ much more than those that concerned themselves more with the ‘Summarized Facts.’ The records may not show that he was He clearly demonstrated that he knew the difference between a ‘Court and a Zoo.’ Reporting upon ‘His Lordship’s’ dissatisfaction, reporters quoted him as saying; ‘Never in my 30 years as an officer of the Court, could I recall seeing such ‘Perversion of Justice’ [MNI: February 3, 2015].

KNOWLEDGE AND POWER

One is reminded of former Commandant of the re-named ‘Sir Wright George Police Training Academy.’ In such capacity, he taught ‘Criminal Law: Criminal Evidence and Procedure.’ He also taught Court Procedure.’ Though not necessarily condescending, Sir Wright Fitzhenly George KCN, CVO, QPM, CPM,’ then as ‘Commandant,’ was frighteningly verbally brutally strong. He had no tolerance, neither for ‘insolence, ignorance nor docile stupidity.’ Though he injected fear in trainees, he also imparted knowledge. He was not only a ‘Tower of Strength,’ He was a ‘Source of Inspiration.’ He motivated, not by words, but by deeds.

VERBALLY BRUTAL

He was verbally brutal. Though not necessarily with increased frequency, he would state; ‘Knowledge is power, but some officers want power without knowledge.’ Whatever was meant, drawing reasonable inference, he could never have been speaking to members of today’s ‘Police Service.’ Whatever, might be reasonably inferred in that quote, there should be merit in it. Apply the quote by ‘Sir Wright,’ to some institutions within ‘OECS’ jurisdictions, seemingly people not very au fait with ‘Criminal Law and Criminal Evidence and Procedure,’ were often perceived as ‘feeling their way around.’ Yet, among them, are those that have been holding their own.

LAW TO FACTS

They have exhibited; (a) ‘Knowledge and understanding (b) ‘Decisiveness; (c) Firmness; and (d) Fairness.’ This is not intended to be instructional. Simply observations. An ace criminal investigator and frequent witness at ‘Criminal Assizes,’ Sir Wright’ knew what Judges knew, and imparted it. He knew, and still knows that it is not the duty of ‘Judges’ to apply ‘Law to Facts.’ Guided by such knowledge, he martialed the ‘Facts,’ presented them at trial, that Adjudicators applied just what is to be applied and how it is to be applied.

LAW: CREATURE OF STATUTE

The ‘Law,’ he explained is a ‘Creature of the Statute,’ and that which is adduced as ‘Facts,’ are not. He said that the ‘Law’ only empowers and that ‘Police, Magistrates and Judges’ derive powers from ‘Law.’ Sir Wright instructed and guided officers and left some with the understanding that ‘Law’ has never been given as ‘Evidence.’  Therefore, it could never be; (a) ‘Tendered; (b) Marked; and (c) Admitted; nor (d) Ruled inadmissible.’ In criminal trials, at all material times the ‘Facts’ shall be ‘Applicable to Law.’ This has clearly been among the reasons for the ‘Rules of Admissibility and Inadmissibility.’

POINTS TO PROVE

Likened to ‘Adjudicators’ that know the ‘Points to Prove’ in the particular criminal offence charged. Knowledge of the points guides; (a) ‘Admittance: and (b) Overruling.’ Adjudicators know that; (i) ‘Public Prosecutors shall prove the cases for the Crown, ‘Beyond Reasonable Doubt; (ii) The ‘Rule of Law’ places the ‘Burden of Proof’ on the Prosecution.’ Ever cognizant of their judicial responsibility, ‘Judges’ know when ‘Public Prosecutors’ saw no ‘Reasonable Prospect of Conviction,’ opportunities were often sought to influence their consideration.

COURT’S INDULGENCE

Defence Attorneys’ have always sought to convince ‘Adjudicators’ to accept their arguments. Adjudicators, alert and sharp-minded often guide the Court by certain fundamental legal principles. Adjudicators, by other legal reasoning, often dispel falsely harbored beliefs. An aggravatingly persistent and pestering ‘Defence Attorney’ run the risk for ‘Adjudicators’ to firmly and politely and sometimes boisterously ‘Shut them Down.’ Those taking queue from the ‘Adjudicator,’ are more likely to be allowed the ‘Court’s Indulgence’ in prolonging arguments. They shall know that the function of ‘Adjudicators’ does not include, assisting in the building of ‘Weak Prosecution or Weak Defence.’

COMMIT A CRIME

When the essayist said; ‘Commit a crime and the earth is made of glass; …Commit a crime, and it seems as a coat of snow fell on the earth,’ it is likely that footprints of man and animal, would be seen in the snow [Essayist: Ralph Waldo Emmerson’ [1803-1882]. Notwithstanding the sophisticated way crimes are being perpetrated, criminals often leave some clue, either at, or in the vicinity of the scene. Some ‘Damning Circumstance’ always exists.’ The nature of act, determines how the investigation shall be conducted. The keenly observant and meticulous investigator shall always search for ‘CLUES.’

NEXUS

No matter how insignificant an item or object may seem, there is a possibility that it might provide the ‘Nexus’ to the ‘Crime and the Criminal.’ Dependent upon; (a) ‘That which is being sought; (b) Its evidential value; and (c) Relevance to the ‘Fact in Issue,’ this sometimes dictates a particular approach. Overlooked clues often adds to the statistics of ‘Unsolved Crime.’ Inferentially, the skills that may have been exhibited by ‘Deputy Superintendent’ on the ‘Jamaica Constabulary Force,’ showed that while ‘Scientific Aids’ have various roles to play in crime-solving, create the right environment; given the necessary training; human and technological resources and incentives, criminal syndicates, could be brought to their senses.

FATEFUL FRIDAY

When a young adult female, ‘Vincia James 26,’ failed to return to her ‘New Winthorpes’ home after leaving her workplace just after 1 pm [ABSTV/Radio: Friday April 7, 2017], alarm bells rang out across the nation. Though the sun shone in all its brilliance, eerie feelings engulfed the body of concerned citizens. Sadness filled the hearts, while the imagination ran wild. A distraught, frantic and troubled family looked to the heavens, crying for help. Relatives, loved ones, friends sighed unstoppably. Community members and co-workers, were all jolted into shock. Even so, many people held hope that she would call or show up at her home. As twilight faded and darkness descended upon the nation, not only were calls to her cellular phone not answered, but also caused imagination to run wild.

SENSE OF OPTIMISM

Many feared for the worst. As her immediate whereabouts were not known, residents believed that ‘Fate’ may have visited upon her that which may have been unable to overcome. Many, though fear-stricken, yet shared a ‘Sense of Optimism.’ Hopeful that she will have returned safely, using their energies and imaginations, they established several ‘Search and Rescue Teams.’ Criminal investigators, suspiciously guided,’ found no difficulty in presuming the worst. Yet they knew not a place from which to recover a body and/o securing prima facie evidence.’ Such presumption is consistent with professional training and shall be so until the contrary is proved.

PERSON OF INTEREST

Intensifying their investigation, it necessitated extended searches in divers’ places. Greatly assisted by a distressed family, community members and others in the wider society, mounted searches as far as the mind directed. The widely conducted searches ended in futility. Then followed certain developments. These saw her ‘ex-boyfriend ‘Mikhail Gomes’ being identified as a ‘Person of Interest.’ Guided by mere suspicion, he was quickly taken into investigative custody [April 8, 2017]. Deprived of personal liberty for ‘some 4 days,’ and with investigators seemed challenged for investigative time, he was reportedly charged with offences that were unrelated to the ‘Missing Person Report’ [April 7, 2017].

TIME AND MONEY

It has been said that ‘Time’ is longer than rope. Conversely, it has also been said that every road has a bend and that every river has an end.’ These well-known clichés, are yet to be refuted. For reasons of criminal trials, ‘Time’ increases. To accused persons, when trials delays become inordinate, ‘Time and Money’ are increased. Time is not free. For to the practicing attorneys ‘Time is Money.’ When trials were not conducted on ‘Fixed Date and Time,’ anxiety visits upon their sanity, and so too, is ‘Money Misery.’ Time is never free. To the practicing attorneys, ‘Time is Money.’ Thus, for reasons of delays for criminal trials, ‘Time’ increases. Thus, when attorneys are not ‘Properly Briefed,’ this means longer ‘Time’ in the penitentiary.

MONEY MISERY

Many people appear always as being constrained by ‘Time’. As the world turns, ‘Time’ has never stood still. Factually, ‘Time’ waits on no one and no event or activity or proceedings. As it affects ‘Time,’ for the ‘Mikhail Gomes Bodyless Murder Trial,’ some four years have passed since he was charged with her ‘Presumed Death’ of ex-lover, ‘Vincia James’ [May 2018]. Four years have also passed since he was committed to stand trial at the ‘September Criminal Assize’ [Observer: May 25, 2018].  Constantly, when trials were not conducted on ‘Fixed Date and Time,’ anxiety visits upon their sanity, and so too, is ‘Money Misery.’ As the clock continues to tick and time continues to elapse.  As it affects his apparent affected inordinate-delayed trial, some four years have since passed since he was so committed. This appears to be a plague to some institutions.

FIXED DATE AND TIME

Not infrequently, ‘Time’ often elapsed before and examination is finished or a race is won. Even when a wrist watch was deliberately stopped, ‘Time’ has never stood still.’ When trial delays become inordinate, not only ‘Time’ increases, but also ‘Money.’ None may deny the work load and schedules of ‘Trial Judges.’ Thus, they too, need quality ‘Time,’ either ‘sip and chat,’ strut, then relax. Curiously, if one might be so bold as to ask about ‘Time,’ if not in mixed-up mood, one may say; ‘The trials are longer, and with so much to do in a day and less ‘Time’ to play, ‘Time’ is inconveniently tight.’ If a Judge wish to have a light moment, he/she may say; ‘I will follow the ‘Sentencing Guidelines.’

STARTLING RECOVERY

In respect to the ‘Traceless Disappearance,’ of ‘Vincia James 26’ [ some four years have elapsed. In the ‘Watercourse,’ just across from the ‘Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Stadium,’ a ‘Purse’ was reportedly fished from the ‘North Sound’ [ABS: October 11, 2021]. It was found to contain her identity and other important Cards. The ‘Startlingly Recovery,’ was reportedly made by a leisurely freshwater fisherfolk. There were feelings of optimism by the citizenry. Spirit was lifted, thereby prompted suggestions that her body may possibly have been dumped in the ‘Watercourse’ and may also may be recovered. This re-ignited ‘Hope and Optimism.’ Still, this development brought no comfort and joy to her grieving family. Neither did it bring criminal investigators any closer to solving her mysterious disappearance of the ‘Missing Person-Vincia James.’

CONFIRMATION OF DEATH

Moreover, recovery of the ‘Purse’ provided no reasons for jubilation or celebration. Critical to any actions that may have been taken preceding the recovery of the ‘Purse,’ has always been ‘Confirmation of Death.’ In trials for ‘Murder,’ Judges are better positioned to explain the law and give ‘Proper Judicial Directions’ to the Jury. Moreover, this is essential, not only to the ‘Registry of Births and Deaths,’ but also of critical importance, the issuance of a ‘Birth Certificate.’ Intent on recovering the ‘Missing Person,’ body or skeletal parts,’ diving and conducting extensive search in the immediate and surrounding areas, brought only futility. Spirit was dampened and hope and optimism were dashed. These came upon family, equally as much as they have descended upon ‘Search and Rescue Teams’ and by extension, the community and nation. Still, criminal investigators endeavored to solve her ‘Mysterious Disappearance.’

ADMITTED TO BAIL

Whether or not, evidence is stacked up against an accused person, he/she enjoys the well-established constitutional ‘Presumption of Innocence’ [CO: 1981: Section 15]. Seemingly, upon possible ‘Prima Facie Evidence,’ her ex-boyfriend ‘Mikhail Gomes,’ then whether rightly or wrongly, ‘charged with murder.’ Procedurally, he was taken before the ‘Magistrate’s Court.’ Consequent upon the serious nature of the offence, he was ordered on remanded to the nation’s lone penal institution [April 12, 2017].

DISAPPEARANCE AND BAIL

However, factored in an application for bail by retained criminal ‘Defence Attorney Lawrence Daniels,’ who reportedly advanced legal arguments on; (a) ‘Lengthy prison remand; and (b) Overly inordinate trial delay,’ saw him being ‘Admitted to Bail’ [May 2020]. Such was reportedly given judicial consideration by the humanitarian and ever-considerate ‘Judge, His Lordship, Justice Iain Morley’ who restored his liberty, as he awaits trial [October 19, 2022]. Between ‘Disappearance and Bail,’ some three years have passed.

NATURE OF SERVICE

Credible or incredible, criminal investigators know they shall accept and analyze information so received. Moreover, belief or disbelief, theirs is the duty to respond. Even as the lazy and stupid sometimes believed, crime is really not solvable sitting behind office desks. In the instant case, enthusiastically, optimistically, unhesitatingly and admirably, those so assigned, quickly responded,’ not just to the information received, but particularly to a ‘Call To Duty.’ Still, that has been the ‘Nature of Service’ to the nation. Likened to the mind, ‘Competence’ is too fundamental to ignore. Unfortunately, while the,’ lame, lazy and incompetent are rewarded, the ‘professionally competent, committed, devoted, willing and obliging,’ are isolated from anything called ‘privilege and incentives.’ Then making ‘Mockery’ of their ‘Docility,’ they are offered ‘Medals’ for ‘Serving Long.’ ‘Dig nutten’ (vernacular). A managerial and professional perspective.

INVESTIGATIVE THEORIES

Back to the investigation. The responders may have known that consequent upon the passage of time and earlier rain that saw water tempestuously gushing through, would have cleared the ‘Watercourse’ of both debris and deposits. Still, recovery of ‘The Body’ may have brought some measure of relief to those that in need ‘Solace and Closure.’ However, two ‘Investigative Theories’ shall have suggested to criminal investigators, that the ‘Recovered Purse’ was recently thrown into the ‘Watercourse,’ by; (a) ‘The person who had possession of it; and/or (b) Who possibly have knowledge of the disappearance and ‘reasonably presumed demise of ‘Vincia James.’ Though not necessary a solution, the astute criminal investigator will have factored ‘TIME’ in the investigation. For instance, ‘TIME’ of; (a) ‘Disappearance: (b) Fell rain: and (c) Bail.’ Such may possibly have guided focus and continued investigation elsewhere. To be continued…. 

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