Defense objects to statement by victim’s relatives in court
GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten –Kevyn Maurice C. will stand trial on October 7 for the fatal accident that took the life of Rotary president Ramesh Manek on April 16. The prosecution has charged the defendant with manslaughter and, if that does not hold up, with wrongful death. Judge Maria Paulides ruled that the Hummer C. drove will not be given back immediately as attorney Paula Janssen demanded. “I consider the car a murder weapon,” prosecutor Nanouk Lemmers had said earlier. “Therefore is it possible to seize it.”
Yesterday Kevyn C. appeared in court for a pro forma hearing. Janssen asked to postpone the case because the attorney who will defend the suspect, Eldon Sulvaran, is currently abroad.
Janssen asked to hear several witnesses, all employees of the Platinum Room, who are able to declare that the company’s policy is that employees are not allowed to drink alcohol during working hours. C.’s father – the owner of the establishment – could make a similar statement.
“There is a difference between a policy that does not allow drinking during working hours and the question whether the defendant actually did not drink that evening,” prosecutor Lemmers pointed out later.
Janssen said that her client was sober at the time of the accident and that he had started drinking afterwards.
The charges against C. are that he killed Manek while he was under the influence of alcohol. The victim was jogging on the Airport road when C. fatally hit him with the Hummer he was driving around 7 a.m.
The Dutch Forensic Institute NFI is working on a second opinion about the findings of doctor Mercuur about the defendant’s state at the time of the accident. The prosecutor’s office has also asked the pathologist whether it is possible to say something about the Hummer’s speed when it hit the victim.
Judge Paulides had a better idea. “If we know the scope of the surveillance cameras at the car rental companies along that road and we look at the number of seconds it takes the car to pass, it must be possible to calculate the speed,” she said.
Another point of contention is where Manek was jogging on the road. The defendant has claimed that the victim was on his side of the road, but prosecutor Lemmers disagrees: “The jogger was on the edge of the left side of the road, not where the Hummer should have been driving.”
This suggests that C. swerved to the other side of the road when he hit Manek.
Judge Paulides denied Janssen’s request to hear the witnesses from the Platinum Room. “If they want they can submit a written statement.”
The judge said that she will decide about seizing or returning the Hummer to the defendant’s father at the trial in October.
Prosecutor Lemmers told the court that the victim’s family has asked for an opportunity to make a statement at the trial about the impact the loss of their loved one has had on their lives. Attorney Janssen objected, saying that such a statement could influence her client’s sentence, but that she would discuss the request with her client.
“I find it in the interest of the victim’s relatives to do this,” Judge Paulides said, adding that such a statement would help relatives to deal with their loss. “They are not allowed to say anything about the facts or about the defendant and if that happens I will intervene.”
If the defense sticks to its objections, Paulides said that she would ask the family to submit a written statement and that she would then read this in court.
Prosecutor Lemmers said that C. follows instructions from the Rehabilitation Bureau and Turning Point pretty well, but that there seemed to be a problem with appointments at the Mental Health Foundation and with a request for a drug test at Turning Point. C. cleared these issues up, as they turned out to be misunderstandings.