St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN); Their mothers burst into tears while three young men seemed unfazed as a jury handed down its verdicts on Tuesday (Mar 7)- all three guilty of murder.
Keith “Zion” Murray, 29, Nicholas Riley, 26, and Denroy “Barber” Simmonds, 30, all of Challengers Village, went on trial last week for the January 2011 murder of George Livingston Queeley. The men were arrested and charged for Queeley’s death in November 2013, almost three years after the man went missing.
Dr. Henry Browne QC and his legal team represented Murray, Hesketh Benjamin was counsel for Riley, and Jason Hamilton represented Simmonds.
Director of Public Prosecutions Valston Graham led the prosecution for the Crown.
The star witness for the Crown testified that he was present when Murray and Simmonds shot and killed Queeley, and all three defendants and himself buried the body in the hills of Challengers Village.
According to the witness, the men killed Queeley after they told him not to farm in a particular area. The defendants were allegedly growing an illegal crop in the same area.
After almost three years, the witness confessed to police and took them into the hills where he said Queeley had been buried. Police recovered human remains, minus a skull.
In his closing statements Monday, Dr. Browne argued that there was no medical or forensic evidence introduced that tied the defendants to the deceased. He said the identity of the deceased was inconclusive in the sense that the prosecution could not say with certainty who the headless corpse was.
Dr. Browne said the main witness put himself at the scene of the crime as an accomplice, and therefore it would have been dangerous for the jury to convict on the evidence of a “confessed murderer” who felt a pang of conscience after 34 months.
DPP Graham argued that there was sufficient evidence tying the defendants to the murder, and all had played a role in Queeley’s death.
On Tuesday morning trial judge Justice Trevor Warde QC summed up the case and the jury deliberated for almost four hours before returning the guilty verdicts, all of which were split 10-2.
Justice Warde QC ordered social inquiry reports for the convicted men and set a May date for sentencing, before remanding the men to Her Majesty’s Prison.