Sun | May 19, 2024

Beachy Stout’s trial to start over after 2 jurors discharged

Published:Thursday | September 21, 2023 | 12:09 AMTanesha Mundle/Staff Reporter

The murder trial of Portland businessman Everton ‘Beachy Stout’ McDonald and his co-accused is to begin from scratch on Monday in the Home Circuit, with the empanelling of a new jury, after the judge was forced yesterday to discharge two of the seven-member jury.

The much-anticipated trial started on Monday with the first witness, McDonald’s former employee, taking the witness stand.

However, the trial stalled on Tuesday when juror number 4 failed to show up, forcing an adjournment. The court, at that time, learnt that the juror had said that he had financial constraints and had written a letter asking to be excused but was denied.

Consequently, the judge instructed that the police locate the juror and bring him to court.

But, when the matter was resumed yesterday, Presiding Judge Chester Stamp advised that although the juror had shown up, he and another member of the panel, juror number 2, had outlined challenges that would affect their ability to serve for the full duration of the expected two-month trial.

The court heard that juror number 4 has severe financial hardships and would suffer severe financial loss if he was compelled to continue for the duration of the trial.

In the case of juror number two, the judge shared that he was required to return to his job in October and was only in Jamaica attending to personal issues.

Like juror #4, the judge said he had seen sufficient evidence to accept the juror’s request. Additionally, he said he was satisfied with the account of both individuals after checking with the court registry.

As a result, both men were released. The other five members were also released by the judge, who indicated that the trial could not proceed with five members, and as such, a new jury panel would be selected.

In the meantime, Stamp said, “It is sad that these matters were not brought out before the jurors were selected.”

However, he said that he understood that the jurors may have been reluctant and did not understand how the process worked.

The judge, however, gave his assurance that persons who will be in the new jury pool for selection will be properly vetted to ensure that they don’t have any financial constraints or challenges that would disrupt the flow of the trial.

McDonald and his co-accused, Oscar Barnes, are on trial for the July 20, 2020, murder of McDonald’s wife, Tonia.

Tonia’s partially burnt body was found with the throat cut in her car along a deserted road in Sherwood Forest, Portland.

Both defendants were remanded until Monday.

tanesha.mundle@gleanerjm.com