The Guyana Court of Appeal earlier this week remitted three murder cases back to the High Court for retrial during the upcoming Criminal Assizes.
Murder convicts Terry Kissoon and Naresh Ramjohn had appealed their sentences and convictions, while the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) had appealed the 2011 acquittal of Tarel Edwards, called Troy Lord and Troy Forde, who was also charged with murder.
The court, having reviewed the cases, allowed the appeal, set aside the convictions and sentences in the cases of Kissoon and Ramjohn, and the acquittal in the case of Edwards. As a result, the matters are remitted for new trials at the next sitting of the Demerara Assizes before different judges and juries.
The judgments in the appeals filed by Kissoon and the DPP were handed down on Monday, while the judgment in the appeal of Ramjohn was handed down the following day.
Kissoon was in December, 2013, sentenced to death by Justice Diana Insanally after he was found guilty of the murder of Troy Smith.
The prosecution had said that Kissoon, who was tried in the Demerara Assizes, fatally shot Smith on July 30th, 2010, after accusing him of stealing a motorcycle. After fleeing, he was held more than a year later in Lethem.
Kissoon, when called upon to lead his defence, had elected to give an unsworn statement that he was 300 miles away in the interior when Smith was killed. Kissoon also claimed he was wrongfully identified by Smith’s brother, Shawn Smith, who had testified during the High Court trial that he had seen Kissoon holding a gun in his hand.
According to reports, Kissoon went to Smith’s Lot 108 Thomas Street home just before 7 am on the day of the shooting and accused him of stealing his motorcycle. He later told Smith that he had 24 hours to return it. The allegations led to a heated argument during which Smith was shot once in the left side of his abdomen before Kissoon fled the area.
The injured man was rushed to the Georgetown Hospital by relatives but was pronounced dead on arrival.
On September 10th, 2014, Ramjohn, a then 40 year old labourer of Stanleytown, New Amsterdam, was sentenced by Justice Navindra Singh at the Berbice High Court to 55 and a half years in jail, after a jury found him guilty of murdering Anthony Samaroo, 28, of Levi’s Dam, Angoy’s Avenue in 2008.
In the report given to the court by Senior Probation Officer Claudia Munroe moments before the sentencing, it was reported that Ramjohn and Samaroo were associated in illegal activities, such as abusing drugs and thefts. It was also reported that disagreements between the two could have resulted in the murder of Samaroo.
Munroe concluded that Ramjohn was the product of a broken home and was unable to achieve a formal education. Family members stated that he was a hard-working individual. His father acknowledged that his son used marijuana but never molested anyone.
Ramjohn had maintained his innocence during the trial and asked that the court for sympathy with regards to sentencing.
Justice Singh had started off the sentence at 60 years but subtracted four and a half years for time Ramjohn spent on remand.
Meanwhile, Edwards was acquitted in February, 2011, for the murder of Terrence Moffat.
It was alleged that on April 2nd, 2006 at Breda and Joseph Pollydore streets, the accused murdered Moffat, who was reportedly beaten with a pistol and shot to the neck. Marcus Boyce and Julian Masdammer testified during the trial before Justice Dawn Gregory-Barnes. Boyce was an eyewitness while Masdammer was reportedly shot to the shoulder during the alleged attack. The attack on Moffat allegedly stemmed from a longstanding land dispute between his and Edwards’ family.
After three hours of deliberations, the jury found Edwards not guilty by a proportion of 8 to 4, following which the prosecution applied for a stay in proceedings to seek further advice from the DPP.
In-chambers discussions were subsequently conducted among the prosecution team, the judge and then defence attorney Peter Hugh about the verdict delivered by the jury.
Shortly after, the DPP, in the company of then State Prosecutor Judith Mursalin, arrived at the High Court with a notice of appeal. Proceedings were recommenced and Justice Gregory-Barnes asked the accused to stand and asked whether he had heard the verdict of acquittal. The notice of appeal was then presented to the court. Edwards was later released on $100,000 bail by the court.