Murder accused reunites with wife

September 25, 2023
Barnes and his wife

Oscar Barnes, the co-defendant in the murder trial of Portland businessman Everton ‘Beachy Stout’ McDonald, was all smiles earlier today as he embraced his newly wed in the courtyard of the Supreme Court in Kingston.

His bail was reinstated after it was revoked at the start of the trial last Monday. 

Both men are to stand trial for the murder of McDonald's second wife, Tonia Hamilton-McDonald.

McDonald, 68, however was further remanded.

The trial reset came about because the judge was forced last Tuesday to discharge two of the seven-member jury. A new jury was empaneled earlier today.

The much-anticipated trial started last Monday with the first witness, McDonald’s former employee, taking the witness stand.

However, the trial stalled a day after when juror number four failed to show up, forcing an adjournment. 

The court, at that time, learnt that the juror had said that he had financial constraints and had written a letter asking to be excused but was denied.

Consequently, the judge instructed that the police locate the juror and bring him to court.

But, when the matter was resumed yesterday, Presiding Judge Chester Stamp advised that although the juror had shown up, he and another member of the panel, juror number two, had outlined challenges that would affect their ability to serve for the full duration of the expected two-month trial.

The court heard that juror number four has severe financial hardships and would suffer severe financial loss if he was compelled to continue for the duration of the trial.

In the case of juror number two, the judge shared that he was required to return to his job in October and was only in Jamaica attending to personal issues.

Like juror number four, the judge said he had seen sufficient evidence to accept the juror’s request. Additionally, he said he was satisfied with the account of both individuals after checking with the court registry.

As a result, both men were released. 

The other five members were also released by the judge, who indicated that the trial could not proceed with five members, and as such, a new jury panel would be selected.

The trial is presided over by justice Chester Stamp.

Last week he said that he understood that the jurors may have been reluctant and did not understand how the process worked.

He, however, gave his assurance that persons who will be in the new jury pool for selection will be properly vetted.

- Andre Williams 

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