Written by; LK Hewlett
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): After a three day trial a jury failed to convict Erastus Laville for shooting at a police officer in March 2015.
Laville, a 22-year-old from Westbourne Ghaut, went on trial Monday facing five charges relating to a shooting incident on Prickley Pear Alley the morning of March 18, 2015.
Laville was charged with discharging a loaded firearm, unlawful possession of a firearm, unlawful possession of ammunition, and two counts of malicious damage.
Director of Public Prosecutions Valston Graham lead the prosecution and Dr. Henry Browne, Marissa Hobson-Newman and Ogrenville Browne defended the accused.
The prosecution called several police officers to the stand, including its key witness Officer Farrel.
Officer Farrel testified that on the morning in question, while off duty, he spotted the defendant in the area of Prickley Pear Alley and its environs a few times.
The veteran officer said he saw Laville running up the alley, and upon investigating saw the young man coming back down the alley looking fidgety. He said Laville was fumbling with his hand under his shirt by the waist of his pant, and he saw the handle of a gun.
The Officer said he shouted Police and asked Laville what he had there and Laville turned and started running. He further testified that as he began to give chase, Laville pointed his hand back and fired two bullets in his direction. He returned a single shot.
Laville escaped the scene but was later apprehended and charged.
Bullets shattered the window of a Pastor’s jeep parked on the adjacent road, and a door of the building housing Dominion Radio.
When the DPP rested his case on Wednesday, Dr. Browne entered a No Case Submission to have the charges thrown out. He argued that there was no forensic evidence linking his client to the alleged shooting, and although the officer claimed he knew Laville for a few years, his identification by recognition was insufficient since one person could be mistaken for another.
Justice Trevor Ward QC instructed the jury to return a not guilty verdict for the malicious damage to the door but proceed on the other four charges.
After about two hours of deliberation on Thursday, the jury returned a not guilty verdict for the other malicious damage charge, but were hung on the gun-related charges.
A retrial was ordered however no date was fixed. Laville was returned to custody at Her Majesty’s Prison as he was in June 2015 charged with the October 2014 murder of Istan Mitchum.