The verdict and Decision in two recent high profile cases in the local Courts sparked a discussion between my Lady and I. During the discussions, I reiterated that there is a difference between being ‘Innocent’ and ‘Not Guilty’. She wanted to know the difference; so I pointed out that being Innocent is an issue of FACT; but being declared or found ‘Not Guilty’ is a matter of LAW; and recounted the following:
Michael and Winston had a verbal argument one evening, which escalated into a physical fight. Winston won the fight, which utterly humiliated Michael. In a fit of anger and shame, Michael openly swore “Mi mus kill yuh bwoy!”.
Early the next morning Winston was found dead; having apparently succumbed to wounds inflicted by a knife, which was left at the scene of the crime.
During investigations, while there were no witnesses to the incident, the Police learnt of the fight between Michael and the deceased earlier in the evening. They also recorded statements which spoke to Michael’s threat on the deceased’s life. In addition, at least one person suggested that the knife which was left at the seen looked like the one which Michael was accustomed to carrying on his person.
Based on the evidence, Michael was named a ‘Person of Interest’ in the case. Subsequently, he was arrested and interviewed. During the interview Michael expressed shock at Winston’s murder, but confirmed that he was in a fight with the deceased hours before his death. He also admitted that he did threaten the deceased and that the knife which was shown to him was, in fact, his property. However, he could not account for how or when he lost the knife and could not give an exact account of his whereabouts during the night.
Albeit that, strangely, there were no fingerprints on the knife and no witnesses to the crime; given that the weapon belonged to Michael and that he had threatened the deceased just prior to his death and that he had no alibi; the Police decided to charge Michael for murder. After all: he had motive (the humiliating defeat in the fight); he had means (the weapon belonged to him); and he had opportunity (his whereabouts when the incident occurred was unknown).
During the subsequent trial, although Michael pleaded Not Guilty, he was found Guilty in a Court of Law by a jury of his peers and sentenced by the Judge to at least twenty years in prison. It might have been more; but it was his first offense and character witnesses told the Court that he had been gainfully employed and was a relatively model citizen in his community.
Why am I bothering to write about this? Well, because the truth in FACT is this:
Stephen, not very familiar to Michael, had a long-standing grudge against Winston and longed for the opportunity to get even with him. After the fight between Michael and Winston, he took Michael to an unfamiliar bar and bought him more than enough alcohol to drown his sorrows. He also paid a waitress, whom Michael was seeing for the first time, to inveigle Michael to go home with her. When Michael was leaving with the waitress, Stephen took his knife without his knowledge and went to murder Winston.
In the morning, the waitress simply left a ‘wasted’ Michael at a bus stop on her way to do her chores.
Michael recounted as much as he could remember of that story [excepting the part about Stephen taking his knife]. But, he did not know the name or location of the bar; or the name of the waitress or where she lived. And he hardly knew Stephen (who denied being with him at all during the night) and could not even describe the colour, make or model of the car which took him to the ‘alleged’ bar.
Oh YES, Michael was Innocent [of Winston’s murder], but Guilty (according to the Law) and is now serving twenty years to life…
How does this make you feel? What are the questions that come to mind?
Walk good, ’til next time …
*Disclaimer: I am not an Attorney-at-Law, Lawyer or Barrister and all opinions expressed are my own and cannot be relied upon for use in any Legal context.