Randy Martin murder trial begins

The trial of Randy Martin on the charge of murdering Sabrina Schirn was set to start yesterday (Wednesday) afternoon.

Solicitor General Cheryll Richards said she would open the Prosecution’s case at 2.30pm.

Justice Charles Quin is hearing the matter without a jury.

Defence Attorney Adam King applied on Tuesday for Martin to have a trial by judge alone. Mr. King referred to rumours and his client’s worries.

Martin originally elected trial by jury. He pleaded not guilty in July to the charge of murdering Sabrina Schirn on an unknown date between 11-17 March, 2009.

Justice Charles Quin granted Mr. King’s application.

In making the application, Mr. King cited the Criminal Procedure Code: If an accused person is of the opinion that, due to the nature of the case or the surrounding circumstances, a fair trial with a jury may not be possible, he may elect to be tried by a judge alone.

Mr. King said this was a notorious murder case. ‘Practically every Caymanian on the island will know about the murder,’ he told the court. He said many people knew Sabrina, many knew her family and they would all be affected by that knowledge.

‘Mr. Martin has heard from various people that there are reasons to be worried about a trial by jury,’ Mr. King continued. He said his client had thought about the matter for some time and discussed it with him and lead counsel David Howard Evans QC.

It was only that morning, when Martin walked into the courtroom and saw the potential members of the jury sitting there that he decided trial by jury was not the right thing for him, Mr. King concluded.

Ms Richards said it was right and proper that a defendant should have a trial of a nature he felt would be a fair trial. She expressed concern, however, that the reason put forward was not detailed enough to satisfy the provisions of the law.

Mr. King replied that where a defendant is hearing rumours from fellow inmates and people outside the prison, it was within the judge’s discretion to those were the circumstances that prevented him from making the application earlier.

Justice Quin said he would allow the defendant to choose mode of trial again and Martin replied ‘Judge alone’.

Martin’s trial had been scheduled to begin on 23 November but was then put off until 24 November. Forty potential jurors attended for the selection process; the application was made in their absence and they were later advised to return for another trial on 30 November.