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Posted: Tuesday 23 April, 2024 at 8:47 PM

Breaking: DPP Drops Carnival Murder Case Due to Lead Prosecutor Blunder

By: Jermine Abel,

    BASSETERRE, St. Kitts — A procedural oversight by the lead prosecutor has led the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Adlai Smith, to dismiss the ongoing murder case against Calvin Powell. However, the possibility of reinstating the charges in the future remains open.


    Powell, 18 at the time of the alleged offense, was charged with the murder of Javrell Alford, 21, during the Federation’s Carnival J’ouvert celebrations on December 26, 2022.


    In a statement released this evening (Apr. 23), DPP Smith announced the entry of a nolle prosequi in the case, indicating the prosecution's decision to pause proceedings for the time being.


    The decision followed an error by the lead investigator, who failed to obtain a formal statement before the trial began on April 17, 2024. The trial continued through April 18, 2024.


    DPP Smith explained that during the examination of the prosecution's first and key witness on the opening days of the trial, the witness turned hostile, leading to the prosecution's request to cross-examine him. The cross-examination was set to continue on April 22, 2024.


    However, on  April 20, the prosecution received new information from another potential witness to the fatal stabbing of Alford. Further investigation revealed that the lead investigator had taken notes during an interaction with the new witness, but had not obtained a formal statement. Unfortunately, the notes were lost, and the investigator could not recall the witness's statements or identify the potential witness.


    Smith stated: “The prosecution has a fundamental duty to ensure a fair trial for both the accused and the Federation. This includes the disclosure of all relevant information in the possession of the State which helps the defence or undermines the prosecution case. Given the missing witness notes and the investigator's inability to recall the information, the prosecution cannot fulfill this obligation. While the prosecution believes it could potentially secure a conviction if allowed to continue, the inability to disclose this potential new information raises significant concerns about the likelihood of that conviction being overturned on appeal. The Court of Appeal would never accept the excuse that the notes have been lost especially where they could potentially be beneficial to Mr. Powell. The fact that the notes cannot be found cannot redound to his detriment. Consequently, in the interest of justice and due process, the prosecution cannot proceed in this manner.”


    Smith told SKNVibes last year that he intended to implement changes to ensure proper record-keeping by police officers.


    "I want to advocate for a culture whereby every material thing which you have done in relation to an investigation, it must be written down,” Smith told SKNVibes News back in December.  “But I want to go a step further, I have come up with a creative technique whereby…you create a notebook via your email. So you come to court and you don’t remember, you can just type in such and such a date on a particular date and the search line and you find it.”


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