Two Sisters Go Free Following Murder of Brother in 2010
Two Soufriere women are reunited with their families, six years after they were charged with the murder of their brother Harrison Williams.
The trial got underway at the High Court on Monday 1, March 2016.
Lauretta Xavier and Manuella Williams walked away free from the High Court on Tuesday, 1 March 2016, after their brother Herbert Xavier pleaded guilty to manslaughter at the start of their trial. the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions then decided to withdraw the charge of manslaughter against the sisters.
“The first defendant having pleaded guilty and some of this consideration… had to do with the status of the witnesses as we all know the investigating officer has since died and is not available to give evidence, the pathologist is out of the jurisdiction of the court. It is not possible to get her to return to the state for the trial. It is true that applications can be made to have…or depositions which was given at the Magistrate’s Court read but it has much less weight than if the witness were there and they could be crossed-examined and the jury see their demeanor. We also considered the other witnesses who had very strong sentiments and we took that into consideration while we recognize that somebody has died and the fact that he has died is probably more important than the sentiments but we take them in for what they are worth.
“We also considered the fact that there was a first trial and that the first trial was quashed by the Court of Appeal would that we may or that DPP may have a new trial. We recognized that at the end of the trial, before it was quashed, the defendant had served some time in prison maybe a little more than four years,” According to Magistrate Baptiste.
Herbert Xavier who pleaded guilty with manslaughter has been held in custody until his is sentenced later this month.
The three were sentenced to 15 years in jail for the 2010 murder of their brother Harrison Williams, but the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal quashed their conviction in November 2014, citing errors by the judge and ordered a retrial.
However, the office of Director of Public Prosecutions reduced the charge from murder to manslaughter in February 2016.
The three were on bail since 2014.
Jacqueline Williams is the wife of the deceased Harrison Williams.
She was asked whether she accepted developments at the court.
“To be honest I’m not feeling happy about it because I leave it for god already. I decided that I’m not taking part in that matter anymore because it is too hard and painful for me and my children and to go back in that same situation again its very heartbreaking. God decided that is the way it have to be so I have to accept it.”
She indicated that she would like to see the two families come together for peace.
She said, ” It maybe can help for the others and for in the near future what that happened will not happen not to me not to anyone else again. we will learn from that and I hope for the best.”
Meantime, High Court Judge, Errol Thomas said the Soufriere incident was unfortunate, as children were there and saw what happened.
He said he needs to speak to the Welfare Division to see what kind of assistance can be given to the child.
He called on families to take time to mend the fences and said a priest can help.
Director of Public Prosecutions, Evalina Baptiste leads the state’s case while, Dawn Yearwood Stewart represents the sisters and Wayne Norde defends Herbert Xavier.