On November 7, 2023, a nine-member jury of five men and four women was empaneled to try the murder case against Heywood Augustine, of Sandwich Street, Portsmouth. Augustine is accused of killing Derek Peters also of Portsmouth on January 1, 2018. Peters died from a gunshot in the back of the neck in the first homicide case in Dominica for that year.
The accused who has since been indicted for murder has pleaded not guilty to the charge. Director of Public Prosecution Sherma Dalrymple who is leading the State’s case informed the Court of the prosecution’s intent to call six witnesses to the stand to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
During his address to the jury, the presiding Judge, Justice Colin Williams, issued a caution, emphasizing that as the sole arbiters responsible for determining the facts in this case, they must approach the matter with an impartial and objective assessment, ultimately ensuring the delivery of justice.
He noted that the cornerstone of a fair trial is impartiality, stressing this virtue’s importance. Jurors were called upon to set aside any preconceived notions or biases and to evaluate the case solely on the basis of the evidence presented within the confines of the courtroom.
Justice Williams averred that within the courtroom, every defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The burden of proof he said rests squarely on the prosecution’s shoulders.
Jurors were further guided on their essential role in the trial process. They are called to be active and discerning participants. Their duty is to listen attentively to the evidence, assess the credibility of witnesses, and, at the trial’s conclusion, arrive at a verdict that is not only legally sound but also fair and just based on the facts presented before them.
The defense team is led by attorney-at-law Dawn Yearwood Stewart assisted by Wayne Norde. The matter will resume today with opening remarks by the DPP and the testimony from the State witnesses.