After initially being divided, a jury yesterday found Dellon Henry, called “Nasty Man,” guilty of the 2015 murder of East Ruimveldt footballer Dexter Griffith.
After four hours spent deliberating on the evidence at the High Court in Georgetown, the jury forewoman had indicated to trial judge Sandil Kissoon that they had still not arrived at a verdict, with jurors being split 6 to 6. However, following further directions by the judge and an hour and a half of further deliberations, the jury returned a unanimous verdict.
Henry’s sentencing will await the presentation of a probation report.
After the jury forewoman alerted him to the initial deadlock, Justice Kissoon requested an explanation for why the jury was experiencing difficulty with arriving at a decision. After the reasons were presented, including a point about articles that were not admitted into evidence and means through which the accused was identified, the judge enquired whether “further directions” were needed, before proceeding to sum up the matter again.
In his summary, he emphasised that the onus was on the prosecution to prove the elements of the crime. He noted that its case was dependent on the direct testimony of Kishawn Griffith, the brother of the deceased, who testified that he saw Henry shoot his brother and later identified him from a photograph published on the front page of the Guyana Chronicle. The judge stated that the other elements of the crime being satisfied—that being that there was no dispute about Griffith’s killing being unlawful—then the jury’s decision on the matter should depend on whether it deemed Kishawn to be a credible witness or not. Proof of innocence, he noted, was not the job of the defence.
In summing up earlier, Justice Kissoon had noted that not only was there testimony that Kishawn had seen Henry the day before, but he had stated that when he observed him on the night of the shooting, he was positioned only 10 feet away and lighting in the environs was adequate.
He said there had been no evidence that the witness ever changed his mind about the description of the height, build, complexion and the shape of the face of the shooter. Kishawn had said the person was slightly shorter than him, slim, and dark in complexion. He said the person he saw in the photo published in the newspaper resembled that of the person he saw that night.
Kissoon said that it was the prosecution’s case that Kishawn’s identification of Henry was spontaneous and of his own accord. It has been the defence’s case that the “photo identification parade,” as it was referred to, was unfair as the photo had been published just one day prior, with Henry identified as a suspect in the matter.
At around 3.45 pm, the jurors left again, returning about an hour and a half later to deliver the news that they had arrived at a unanimous guilty verdict.
‘Is the system’
Henry, who appeared shocked by the news, chuckled nervously to himself from the docks. Asked if there was anything he wanted to say, he indicated that there was.
Noting that he has been incarcerated since the age of 14, Henry claimed that the police had pinned the murder on him after failing to have him convicted for an armed robbery, for which he had been released just days before the murder occurred.
He said the main witness, Kishawn Griffith, had not known him prior, contrary to the man’s report that he had spotted Henry in the area the day before the shooting. Griffith had testified that Henry, who was reportedly only three feet away when he passed, had appeared nervous and was staring at his brother Dexter.
Henry further pointed out that the ballistics test for the gun used in the crime was missing. He also stated that he was not familiar with the environs, particularly the East Ruimveldt area, where the murder occurred.
Henry also questioned why he, with all his “jail sense” would plan an attack on a man dressed in all white, as the main witness had testified the shooter was garbed in.
“Is the system though… is how the system set up,” Henry declared. “It’s not fair,” he repeated, as he walked shackled from the courtroom.
Henry’s lawyer, Adrian Thompson, was absent for the proceedings yesterday. Standing in, however, was attorney John Linder, who, though present for the initial summing up for the matter and the delivery of the verdict, was not present in court when the first decision was announced.
Linder requested that a probation report be provided before sentencing. Henry will return to court on July 5th, when the probation report will be presented, and he will be sentenced for the crime.