It took a nine member jury of seven women and two men a little under four hours to return a unanimous guilty of murder verdict on Herbert Xavier, Loretta Xavier and Manuel Williams of Soufriere for the September 24, 2010 murder of their brother Harrison Williams.
After the verdict was announced to a packed courtroom, lots of shouting and crying could be heard as the convicted murderers were led away to return on March 23, 2012 for sentencing.
On the final day of the trial (day five), Justice Brian Cottle explained to the jury in his summation that they were obligated to accept the issues of the law from him but they were the “sole judges of the facts.”
He warned them that during their deliberations they had to ensure that they were satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the prosecution had proven its case, if their decision was to convict the three.
“Disregard anything that you may have seen, heard or read anywhere besides the four walls of this courtroom, the facts are what you choose to believe,” he said.
Justice Cottle went on to tell the jury that different people see and hear things differently and so there will be discrepancies in some of the evidence.
“You are to decide if what you hear is minor, you are to apply your collective common sense, look at the evidence fairly and squarely with no sympathy for anyone,” Justice Cottle stated.
He warned them that “in the courtroom, there is no room for gossip and/or rumour.”
The Judge then went on to tell the jury that the case for the prosecution, was that the three persons acted together and committed the act.
“Look at the case of each accused person to see if they took part in the act, if so they are guilty….if not they are not guilty, you must be sure if you have any doubt then you must find them not guilty,” he advised.
In detail, the judge went through the evidence of Jacqueline Williams (wife of the deceased) and Hershema Williams (daughter of the deceased) and asked them to carefully consider what they had to say.
Hershema and Jacqueline were eye witnesses to the crime as they were with the deceased who had taken his family out that fateful night on a “family outing.”
The Judge also went through the evidence of Dr. King who pronounced Harrison dead and the pathologist who performed the post-mortem.
He reminded the jury that the pathologist’s findings was “multiple trauma to head” and also of the fractured ribs and other injuries sustained by the deceased.
“Look at the injuries that the deceased sustained, the pathologist report and finding is very important to you since Herbert said he struck the deceased once,” the Judge said.
In touching on the unsworn statements given by the three accused from the prisoners dock, the Judge told the jury that while they must pay close attention to it, they must remember that, “it was not tested by cross examination.”
He asked the jury to weigh the version of what Herbert said and the injury sustained by the deceased as well as the findings of the pathologist.
“Herbert is raising a defense of self defense….are you satisfied that he was acting in self defense based on what he says…if yes, then you must return a verdict of not guilty.
If in doubt, your verdict must be not guilty, you have to be sure. You must be sure before you can convict,” the judge said.
He went on to explain to the jury, that a person under attack is allowed to use “reasonable force to defend him/her.”
However, he stated that the prosecution is saying that the force used by Herbert was “unreasonable and he was not acting in self defense.” he stated before asking the jury to retire.
After the verdict hundreds packed the court area to get a glimpse of the convicted murderers being led away.
The two women covered their faces while their brother Herbert bowed his head.
“We are happy with the decision, they are guilty and we now await the sentencing”, chanted members of the public who were on hand to celebrate the verdict.