Attorneys decry police probe tactics

ST. JOHN’S — The police have come under fire from two prominent attorneys for charging a youth with murder and allowing him to remain on remand for a year in the absence of evidence supporting the allegation.

Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin said it “was unfortunate”, while John Fuller described it as “a terrible shame” that Kurt Structful Edwards was arrested and charged for the shooting death of Kadeem Lewis in 2012. Then, a year later, the charge was withdrawn due to insufficient evidence.

Benjamin suggested the police ought to seek advice from Director of Public Prosecutions, Anthony Armstrong, before filing charges against an individual in any criminal matter.

The attorney said: “It is unfortunate what has developed. That’s why it is important that the authorities follow the directions of the DPP who is the person charged with overseeing criminal prosecutions in Antigua & Barbuda.”

He added: “The DPP is a man who is trained, who knows the law and knows exactly what it means to bring a case against somebody once there is evidence.”

Twenty-one-year-old Lewis of Point was shot in the head on March 24, 2012, in Greenbay and died three days later. When Lewis succumbed to his injuries, police issued a wanted bulletin for Edwards of Cooks Extension. The suspect turned himself in that same week and was subsequently charged.

Armstrong advised the police to discontinue the case against Edwards and to reopen the probe.

While the DPP declined to discuss the contents of his letter to the police or to comment yesterday, defence attorney Fuller – who did not represent Edwards – said it is a “very serious thing to charge someone without any evidence”.

According to the document, dated March 13, Armstrong told the head of the Criminal Investigations Department, Superintendent Nuffield Burnette, the charge “was unwarranted and appears to have been made flippantly”.

CID boss Burnette declined to comment on that aspect of the matter when contacted yesterday and Commissioner of Police Vere Browne could not be reached.

Burnette, however, said the police are yet to follow the DPP’s advice on reopening the investigation into the killing. And, he said he was unaware whether investigators executed Armstrong’s instructions to inform the family of the deceased the case would be withdrawn and why. (Antigua Observer)

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