Sunday 15 September, 2019

Woman freed of hubby's murder after allegedly confessing to the crime

A woman who was alleged to have confessed to an obeah man that she paid another man $30,000 to have her husband killed 10 years ago, was freed of a murder charge in the St Thomas Circuit Court on Thursday.

Joyce Leslie, a 47-year-old resident of Prospect in the parish, was found not guilty by a seven-member jury in relation to the murder of her husband, Andrew Leslie, a Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) private.

The verdict was reportedly reached due to lack of evidence to establish where and how the soldier was allegedly killed.

Private Leslie disappeared in October 2008, and has not been seen or heard from since.

At the trial, prosecutors placed their chance of securing a conviction on a confession statement allegedly signed by Mrs Leslie when she visited a professed obeah man, Daniel West.

West gave testimony during a preliminary hearing in the St Thomas Parish Court that during a visit, Mrs Leslie told him that she had paid a man $30,000 to kill her husband.

West then reportedly instructed her to write the statement on a piece of paper and affix her signature to it.

Indications are that shortly after West gave that testimony in the parish court, he died.

At the circuit court trial, the prosecution's case developed further setbacks, as the alleged original confession statement, signed by Mrs Leslie, could not be located.

A scanned copy of the document was instead tendered into evidence, but it reportedly only indicated that Mrs Leslie paid a man $30,000. In addition, there was no indication of what the woman had made the payment for.

To further complicate things for the crown's case, a handwriting expert gave testimony at the trial that he could not decisively establish that Mrs Leslie had written the statement.

Throughout the trial, the accused woman professed innocence, and denied knowing anything about the disappearance of her husband.

She was represented by attorney Hensley Williams, who told the jury that the evidence which was presented by the crown was unreliable and insufficient, and his client should be freed.

On Thursday, the jury returned a not guilty verdict after deliberating for close to an hour.

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