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Mar 27, 2015

Appeals Court Upholds Thurton’s Conviction

Bryan Neal

Twenty three year old Akeem Thurton had expected to go home today after Court of Appeal Justices Samuel Awich, Dennis Morrison and Christopher Blackman ruled on his case. Despite being convicted in March of 2012 in the first murder trial heard by Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin without a jury, he has told all who will listen that it was not him, but the late Ricky Valencia who shot senior attorney Rodwell Williams outside his law firm Barrow and Williams on May thirty-first, 2010.  The court dismissed Thurton’s appeal and upheld his conviction; his sentence of fifteen years was reduced slightly to fourteen years and six months with effect from March thirtieth, 2012, the date of sentencing. As of this coming Monday, he will have served three years of that sentence. Thurton, represented by attorneys Nancy Anderson and Bryan Neal, presented twenty grounds of appeal.  It included charges that the amendments to the law are unconstitutional and prejudice the right to a fair hearing, were improperly applied to his case as it took place before they were passed, and that his sentence was severe despite the young age and otherwise good character of the accused. But the primary plank of the case was why Thurton was unable to properly defend himself because he was unable to get legal representation. Neal gave his reaction to the verdict outside court this afternoon.

 

Bryan Neal, Attorney for Akeem Thurton

“Well he was hoping to go home today, but the good thing about our legal system is that there is one final opportunity to appeal so that we have the Caribbean Court of Justice and any litigant, any person who is dissatisfied with a decision of the court, especially the Court of Appeal, there is one more chance for him to appeal to the CCJ. So Miss Anderson and I will be looking at the grounds that we had filed; we will see if we can strengthen those grounds and decide if we have the possibility to mount an appeal from this decision, which is Akeem Thurton’s right.”

 

Reporter

“Sir, what was the ground of appeal you believe was the strongest?”

 

Bryan Neal

“Well the retroactivity of the application of the amendment to the jury act and that it should not have been applied to him. Also some of the procedural irregularities that we found having read the transcript. We thought those were substantial grounds and we put them before the courts. But the court has refused to accept and that is what it has done.”

 

So Thurton is now back behind bars serving the rest of his sentence. 

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