The man who was accused of the 2006 murder of Samantha Belle was yesterday freed after a retrial of the case, due mainly to inconsistencies in a witness’s statement to the police as compared to that which was given to the court.
Rayburn Harvey was accused of gunning down the young woman in the vicinity of the St Sidwell’s School on Vlissengen Road, Georgetown on March 18, 2006.
Harvey faced trial in April 2011, during which seven witnesses testified, five of whom were presented by the prosecution and two by defence attorney, Ronald Burch-Smith, who represented Harvey the second time as well. In the first instance, the jury had returned to the courtroom of Justice Dawn Gregory unable to pronounce the man guilty or not guilty of the murder.
However, during this second trial, a no-case submission was made by Burch-Smith and it was upheld by Justice Franklyn Holder who presided over the matter.
A witness for the prosecution, Alisa Griffith, sister of the deceased, told the court that on the day in question, she and her infant daughter visited Belle at her Lot 74 D’Urban Street home. She said that some time after 6 pm that day, her sister decided to take them home on her motorcycle and she opted to walk ahead of Belle to Vlissengen Road.
Shortly after, she recalled, Belle rode up on her scooter and stopped a short distance away from her and as she was walking towards her sister, she said she noticed two men coming from a nearby stall.
One man, who was later identified as Harvey, held on to the keys while they were still in the ignition while the other man clutched the throttle of the scooter. Harvey allegedly demanded that Belle come off the scooter, while she was knocking his hand away from the keys. Griffith stated that though Harvey wore a cap, his face could still be clearly seen.
The woman said she focused more on Harvey after her sister said to him, ‘I know you. How can you do this to me?’
In the police report, which was presented to the court, Griffith said that Harvey had pulled out a gun and stuck it to her sister’s hip, demanding that she come off the bike. She said after pleading with her sister, the woman came off but proceeded to scream for help at which time she ran away and flagged down a car and returned to where her sister was. She noticed the man with the gun in a face-to-face confrontation with her sister while his accomplice was already seated on the motorcycle. The man then shot Belle to her shoulder, jumped onto the bike and sped off, according to Griffith’s statement to the police.
However, during the trial, Griffith told the court that it was the accomplice who shot the woman and not Harvey.
Justice Holder indicated that because of inconsistency and lack of detail in her description, which he said was weak and slender, he was forced to withdraw the matter from the jury.
The second man who was allegedly involved was never caught by the police and the motorcycle was never recovered.
Representing the state in this matter were Prosecutors Judith Gildharie-Mursalin and Renita Singh.