Former soldier not guilty of murder of ex’s mother

Abiola Jacobs

Former Guyana Defence Force (GDF) Private Abiola Jacobs was yesterday found not guilty of murdering her ex-boyfriend’s mother.

The 12-member jury returned with a unanimous verdict after about two hours of deliberations at the High Court in Georgetown and acquitted Jacobs, called “Abby,” of the 2014 murder of Donna Taylor.

“You are free to go,” Justice James Bovell-Drakes told a visibly-relieved Jacobs, who exhaled a loud sigh of relief after the jury foreman announced the verdict.

Donna Taylor

Once her handcuffs were removed, the young woman was greeted with hugs and kisses from her mother and other relatives, who were among those seated in the packed courtroom anxiously awaiting the verdict.

In contrast, Taylor’s relatives were sombre as they huddled around each other, seemingly contemplating their next move.

After the verdict was announced, Prosecutor Mandel Moore immediately rose to give notice of his intention to appeal.

Justice Drakes, however, noted that his court would not be entertaining such an application, while cautioning that it must be made before the appropriate forum, having followed the prescribed procedure.

Taylor, 55, was discovered in the backyard of her 1617 Public Road, Agricola home with her throat slit.

The charge against Jacobs had been that she murdered Taylor at the woman’s Lot 16-17 Agricola Public Road, East Bank Demerara home on the night of January 31st, 2014.

She had always maintained her innocence, stating that she was never at the time of the killing, nor did she have anything to do with it.

The prosecution’s star witness, Samantha Sabbat, who testified via Skype from London last week, had said that she saw Jacobs at Taylor’s house on the night of the murder but her testimony was inconsistent.

A guest of that home at the time, Sabbat had told the court that she was asleep in a room on the second-storey of the house but was awakened around 11 pm by noises. The woman said that in the midst of hearing thumping sounds, which also emanated from Taylor’s room, she heard a male voice demanding that the door of the bedroom in which she was staying be opened. She then related seeing a tall, slender shadowy figure outside her bedroom window, “which I thought to be Abby.”

When asked, Sabbat confirmed that the windows of the room in which she was staying, were painted and therefore no one could see in or out, but she maintained that the outline of the person she saw after lights in her bedroom had been switched on was that of Jacobs.

Further questioned by Thompson as to the person she claims to have seen, the witness said she could not be certain. “I did not know whose shadow it was at the window. I believe it was her [Jacobs],” the woman declared.

Much to the shock of many in the courtroom, the witness then went on to explain, “The body shape look exactly the same when you see the tall, slender shadowy figure.”

At the time of the killing, Sabbat had told the court that she had been in the country about two weeks prior, to attend her father’s funeral, and was staying at Taylor’s home.

She also said she had no reason to lie about Jacobs being at the scene.

Meanwhile, leading her defence at the close of the prosecution’s case, Jacobs had said that she shared a good relationship with the deceased, with whom she remained friends, even after breaking up with her son.

According to her, she had last seen Taylor alive on January 29th, 2014, after visiting the woman’s home at her invitation.

Crime scene photographer/fingerprinting technician Detective Lance Corporal Desmond Johnny had previously testified to removing latent prints from the scene, but noted that nothing useful had been found.

The dead woman’s daughter and son-in-law, Marcelle and Charles Collymore had recalled rushing to the scene after a receiving a phone call. Marcelle had told the court that arriving at her mother’s home, she searched, but found her nowhere in the house.

Collymore said she then decided to venture into the dark backyard with the aid of a rechargeable light and tearfully recalled that it was there that she discovered her mother’s motionless body lying face-up, with what appeared to be blood around her.

The state’s case was presented by Prosecutor Mandel Moore in association with Prosecutor Lisa Cave.

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