Senior Magistrate Rickie Burnett has rejected the no case submissions that lawyers for four of the six men charged in connection with the May 2018 beating of a man at his fiancée’s funeral in Chauncey.
He handed down the ruling at the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court this month, some 10 months after hearing arguments that the Crown had not made out a case for the men to answer.
With Burnett’s ruling, Kazim “Meds” Alexander, 21, Dane Daniel, 36, Junior “Trunkie” Charles, 30, and Jeronza Thomas, must enter a defence in connection with the disturbance to an assembly lawfully engaged in the performance of religious ceremony, and wounding charges brought against them.
The men are alleged to have disrupted the funeral service of Tonnia Thomas at the Chauncey Cemetery on May 27, 2018 and beating her boyfriend and father of her child, Paul Stephens of Barrouallie.
Counsel Linton Lewis and Ronald “Ronnie” Marks had argued at the close of the prosecution’s case last August that the Crown had not made out a case for the men to answer.
However, Burnett had reserved his decision to last November.
However, he only handed down the ruling this month because the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court was closed for the latter part on 2019, while he acted as a High Court master.
In his submission on behalf of his clients, Alexander and Junior Charles, Marks had argued that the court was “in very real danger of allowing extraneous evidence to enter into the matter”.
He had said there has never been any proper identification made of any of the accused men.
Marks had joined with fellow defence counsel, Linton Lewis, who represents Daniel in saying that the funeral had ended when the incident took place.
“If the person officiating say the funeral was finished, it was concluded,” Marks had argued, adding that there was no evidence that his clients wounded Stephens.
In response to the defence counsel’s no case submission, Prosecutor Police Constable Corlene Samuel had asked the court to consider the evidence of the witnesses, including Stephens, who she said told the court what was done to him and by whom.
Last August, the Crown withdrew the offensive weapon charge against Timron “Homey” Padmore, 38, of Rillan Hill, after he made a no-case submission on his own behalf.
Esward Charles, of Chauncey pleaded guilty to a charge that on the same date and place, they did cause a disturbance to an assembly lawfully engaged in the performance of religious ceremony, to wit “the funeral service of Je-Tonnia Thomas of Chauncey”. He is to be sentenced at the end of the trial of the other men.
Videos of the incident, which were widely circulated on social media, were not tendered into evidence.
The trial is scheduled to resume on July 8.
Thomas was found dead on May 10, 2018, at the Keartons home she shared with Stephens.
At the time of the woman’s death, Stephen had said that she was his wife, but it later emerged that they were never legally married
On the day that Je-Tonnia was found dead, a photo was circulated on social media of a woman purporting to be the deceased with her throat slit.
Police later said that the dead woman was not Thomas and an autopsy revealed that Thomas died of heart failure, resulting from an undiagnosed heart condition that had made the organ larger than normal.
Stephens was savagely beaten during a mob attack at the Chauncey Cemetery on the day that Thomas was buried.