William McLaughlin Martinez wins appeal against murder conviction
The Cayman Islands Court of Appeal has ordered a retrial for William McLaughlin Martinez, who was convicted by a jury in July 2009 for the murder of Brian Rankine-Carter.
The body of the deceased, who was 20 years old, was found in a vacant lot along McField Lane in George Town in the early hours of 17 May 2008.
Attorney Mark Tomassi, assisted by attorney Nick Dixey, argued the appeal on Tuesday morning and the court agreed with his first ground — that the jury had been misdirected by the trial judge.
The misdirection came in response to a question from the jury after they had been sent out to begin deliberations.
It concerned the evidence of the Crown’s main witness, Jason Hinds, 27 at the time. The question was, “When attempting to reach a verdict can we discount Hinds’ testimony and reach a verdict based on forensic evidence?”
Solicitor General Cheryll Richards argued that the judge’s answer was appropriate in the context of all he had said earlier.
Hinds, who pleaded guilty in 2008 to being an accessory after the fact to the murder, was sentenced to three and a half years imprisonment.
A senior prison official confirmed to the Caymanian Compass that Hinds was no longer in custody, having been picked up be Immigration officers and deported. It was not immediately ascertained when this occurred.
Meanwhile, Martinez, 33, is to return to Grand Court for a trial date to be set.
Court president Sir John Chadwick announced the decision after conferring with Justices Elliott Mottley and Abdullah Conteh.
He said full reasons would be put into writing.
The only sentence in Cayman for murder is life imprisonment.