By Monique Washington
The dispute between the Attorney Generals’ office and defense attorneys in the federation has caused another murder case to be postponed until the November assizes.
On Monday, Dexter Somersall and Craig Halliday faced her Ladyship Justice Lorraine Williams to answer to the charge of murder for the second time, this time without their lawyers in court. Defense attorneys Chesley Hamilton and Marsha Henderson, who represented the two defendants failed to show up in court. The two attorneys informed the court that because of the unresolved payment matter with the AG’s office they will not appear in court.
Hamilton previously announced during the January criminal assizes in St. Kitts that he had difficulties continuing in the trial of Jabari Bart, who was being retried for murder. Hamilton explained that his decision was due to the issue with the AG’s office. Hamilton represented Bart in his first trail.
The disagreement over payments began two months ago when the AG’s office notified criminal defense attorneys that effective immediately, lawyers with less than 10 call years will be paid $10,000 for cases going to trail and $15,000 for lawyers with 10 or more call years. If the defendant pleads guilty to a lesser charge, as opposed to going to trial for murder or manslaughter, attorneys will be paid $3,500, and $6,500 on appeal.
At the time, defense attorneys were vocal maintaining a position of not taking any cases until the matter was settled.
In 2012, Somersall and Halliday were charged with the 2008 murder of Leon Westerman from Low Street Nevis. In 2014, Asim Parris of Stoney Grove, Nevis was also charged with Halliday and Somersall in the murder. The three men were granted bail in the sum of $350,000 in July, 2015. In November, the trio faced her Ladyship Justice Lorriane Williams, who due to a technicality, the men were freed, but quickly rearrested on the same charge upon leaving the courthouse. Somersall and Parris were released on bail, while Halliday was charged in November of 2015 on a separate offense. In January, Parris was gunned down and his body was recovered in the Bath Cemetery.
The Observer previously spoke to defense attorney Dr. Henry Browne Queen’s Counsel (QC) who represented Parris. Dr. Browne said at that time a dispute between attorneys and the AG over payments would not affect this case. Dr. Browne maintained the Halliday and Somersall case would be heard during the April assizes.
“That’s an old one, that will be seen,” Dr. Browne explained. “We took it on before. Once we have already faced the judge we accept the assignments. We are just not taking any new assignments.”
The duo’s case has been pushed ahead to the November assizes.
In other court activity, Roosevelt Browne, who was charged with two counts of rape on one charge of kidnapping also had his case traversed to the November assizes. Browne appeared in court on Monday but was not represented. Justice Williams noted that because the matter is so serious he should receive representation. Attorney Robelto Hector has been assigned to his case.