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Jun 28, 1999

Clarke testifies in Lauriano case

It might have been a stunning revelation of facts that could have set a doomed man free, but today Jason Clarke’s contradictory and inconsistent testimony probably didn’t do much to help convicted murderer Wilfred Lauriano. Clarke, an inmate of the Hattieville Prison, was allowed to take the witness stand after the Privy Council accepted an appeal made by Lauriano’s attorney Kirk Anderson earlier this year. Anderson said new evidence had come to light that another man, Kenrick Hendy, killed Diego Tzul at the Queen’s Square Market in July of 1993. Anderson claimed that Jason Clarke, an accomplice to the robbery, told him he was with Hendy when the murder occurred and that Lauriano was no where near the scene. Clarke made a similar statement on News Five in an interview with Audrey Matura in 1996. Earlier this month the Court of Appeal decided to hear Clarke’s testimony but stipulated that he must be cautioned that he might incriminate himself and another attorney, not Kirk Anderson, must present the case. This morning a nervous Jason Clarke appeared before the Court of Appeal, but he denied that he knew Lauriano, Kenrick Hendy or had any knowledge of Tzul’s murder. This afternoon, however, Clarke did an about face while being questioned by attorney Simeon Sampson about the interview with Audrey Matura. He admitted telling her about the murder and that Lauriano was not there at the time. Sampson declared that Clarke’s statements, if they had been presented in the original trial, would have created doubt in the mind of the jurors and asked for another trail. President of the Court of Appeal Kenneth George, characterized the witness’s evidence as “shifty” and said Sampson had been forced to treat Clarke as a hostile witness. Sampson countered that the witness was initially afraid of prosecution but had admitted he wanted to help Lauriano. The president reserved judgment in the matter for the time being. Since it does not appear that the judges of the Court of Appeal considered Clarke to be a truthful and convincing witness it is unlikely they will vote to dismiss the charges against Lauriano. The other two options are to order another trial or to dismiss the appeal, upholding Lauriano’s sentence of death by hanging. Kenrick Hendy was killed by police a week after the Queen’s Square shooting.

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