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Murder trial on hold for expert


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THE MURDER TRIAL  of Frank Errol Gibson has been ordered put on hold until Government comes up with the money for his forensic odontologist.This was the ruling  of the Caribbean Court  of Justice (CCJ) on Friday, which also declared that the Crown breached Gibson’s right to a hearing within a reasonable time.Gibson, of Gall Hill,  St John, is accused  of murdering Francine Bolden of Pot House,  St John, between between January 15 and 16, 2002.His trial had initially begun but was halted  after his attorneys successfully challenged the qualifications of what was supposed to be an expert witness.Since then, attorneys Larry Smith and Ajamu Boardi have launched  a constitutional bid  to have the state pay for Gibson’s expert witness. Attorneys Miriam White and Michelle Knight completed the team.In 2007, Justice Christopher Blackman ruled that Gibson  had a right to get his expert witness paid  for out of the Crown’s coffers but the Attorney General appealed.The Court of Appeal ruled that Gibson had  no constitutional right  to have the services of an expert paid for by the state and was not entitled to a mandatory order  to that effect since such  a right would conflict with the doctrine of separation of powers.The Court of Appeal  also ruled that  while Gibson was constitutionally entitled  to be given the same facilities extended  to a prosecution witness, as in to obtain the attendance and carry out the examination  of witnesses called on his behalf, it (the Court of Appeal) could not make  a mandatory order, based on the Constitution,  to compel the Crown  to provide the financial resources necessary for Gibson to obtain his expert witness.Smith and Boardi appealed that ruling, and on Friday the island’s highest court declared that the assistance  of a forensic odontologist was necessary if Gibson was to put forward  an adequate defence.It also ruled that since Gibson did not have the means to pay, the obligation by the state under Section 18(1) of the Constitution to guarantee a fair hearing, required it to fund the services  of a competent forensic odontologist. It also ruled that the Crown would only be entitled to a copy  of the odontologist’s  report if the prosecution proposed to call him/her  as a defence witness.The CCJ ordered that Gibson’s murder trial be stayed until the  state has shown that  it has provided  or made provisions  for his odontologist.In any event, the CCJ told Gibson’s legal team they were at liberty  to apply to the court  any time after July 15, for a permanent stay or dismissal of proceedings on the ground that the state had not provided  or made any reasonable order to provide  funding for the odontologist’s services.An odontologist specialises in forensic dentistry, often working with law enforcement professionals to match dental records, photographic evidence, and X-rays to teeth or bite marks found at the scene of a crime or an accident.

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