A man found not guilty of murder two weeks ago, was today freed from prison where he had been remanded by the trial judge.
Former murder accused Pedro Deroy Ellis’ time in abeyance at Her Majesty’s Prison Dodds came to an end when the Court of Appeal handed down the decision this morning after hearing submissions from Ellis’ legal team and prosecutors from the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
“I feel great. Ecstatic!” the 38-year-old, of Morris Gap, Westbury Road, St Michael declared as he walked out the doors of the Whitepark Road Supreme Court complex in the arms of his mother and accompanied by his legal team.
Ellis had been accused of the May 5, 2013 stabbing death of Antonio Harewood. Following his trial he was again remanded to prison by Justice Carlisle Greaves on October 25 after a 12-member jury found him not guilty of murder and was also unable to reach a verdict on a lesser count of manslaughter.
This morning Ellis’ lead attorney Queen’s Counsel Larry Smith, along with legal representatives Kashka Hemans, Desiree S. Browne and Jamila Smith appeared before a three-judge panel to appeal Justice’s Greaves decision against bail.
They successfully argued that their client was “improperly imprisoned” given the trial’s hung jury and questioned the reason for his continued incarceration.
The Queen’s Counsel said the one-count indictment which Ellis was facing was now “spent” given the decision of the jury and argued that there was no reason for him to be on remand at the St Philip institution since there was no “fresh indictment” against him neither was he rearrested for any new offence.
“Why is he in custody? What is happening is a threat to the justice system in this country,” Smith stated.
He went on to say that Ellis was past the stage of being an accused and was also not convicted.
“Bail in these circumstances should not arise because he should be free,” said the appellant’s attorney, who added that the trial judge “fell into grave error” as he “didn’t give a thought to the conditions of the matter . . . [and] it has resulted in the additional 12-day incarceration of Mr Ellis.”
Queen’s Counsel Smith charged, “everyone is aware” that there was a need for a fresh indictment “but Mr Ellis is still in prison” adding that the issue of manslaughter “arose” during the trial but there was no indictment for that offence.
“The indictment is spent . . . then Mr Ellis is improperly imprisoned . . . . . Mr Ellis should be allowed to walk out of here today because there is nothing in the law holding him,” Smith said.
In response, Principal Crown Counsel Alliston Seale and Crown Counsel Oliver Thomas stated that “inextricably bound” in an indictment of murder was the element
of manslaughter, “notwithstanding the verdict doesn’t speak directly to manslaughter”.
However, the top prosecutor admitted that his side had to “proffer a new indictment . . . a new indictment for manslaughter”.
Following the submissions, the Court of Appeal judges – Chief Justice Sir Marston Gibson and Justices Kaye Goodridge and William Chandler allowed the appellant’s appeal moments before telling Ellis he was free to go.
A visibly elated Ellis then walked over to his legal team thanking them with handshakes and hugs. He then hugged his emotional mother before walking out of the court.
“We are relieved. It was a very long and challenging legal battle to secure Mr Ellis’ release, first, with the numerous bail applications that were made,” Smith said, as he commended his team as well as Principal Crown Counsel Seale and Crown Counsel Thomas on their submissions.
However, Ellis is still scheduled to reappear in the No. 3 Supreme Court tomorrow in connection with the same matter.