The court has ruled that the State was unable to produce evidence to establish a prima facie case against police constable Orlan Vigille and so has dismissed a charge of murder against him in the death of Joshua Etienne.
But that is not the case for constables Martin Seaman, Devin Challenger and woman police corporal, Jemma Louis. The court has ruled that the State was able to establish a prima facie case against the three officers in the matter and they are to stand trial for murder.
According to the dictionary, in legal practice prima facie is a term generally used to describe two things: the presentation of sufficient evidence by a civil claimant to support the legal claim (a prima facie case), or a piece of evidence itself (prima facie evidence).
Etienne was found dead in police cells in Portsmouth on July 4, 2014, one day after he was arrested for alleged ammunition possession.
An autopsy on his body revealed serious injuries including several broken bones and a punctured organ, among others.
Before handing down his decision before a packed Portsmouth Magistrate’s court on Monday, June 6, 2016, Magistrate Arley Gill briefly recounted some of the evidence adduced by the prosecution. He stated also that his task was to find out if there was a prima facie case against the accused and was not to determine their innocence or guilt.
Zena Moore Dyer, defense counsel for the accused, had argued that there was no case for her clients to answer and submitted a “no case submission”.
But the State led by Sherma Dyrample said the evidence produced by the State was strong and the State had a good case against them.
In his ruling on the matter, Magistrate Gill said that there was no evidence that Vigille took part or did anything and was satisfied that evidence presented did not link him to the matter.
“He was merely the driver under the supervision of his superiors. Like the High Court I have found no evidence to link him to the incident, there is no prima facie case against you…you are discharged and free to go,” he told Vigille.
Vigille was on bail in the sum of $150,000 ordered by High Court Judge Errol Thomas in April 2015.
Bail is closed for constables Seaman, Challenger and Louis and they are on remand at the state prison in Stock Farm.
The matter has been adjourned to June 21, 2016 at 9:00 am to deal with committal to stand trial for murder.