A man from San Juan, who was sentenced to hang for murdering a man during an argument, will have to wait a while longer before he learns the fate of his appeal against his conviction.
Appellate Judges Alice Yorke-Soo Hon, Mark Mohammed and Maria Wilson reserved their judgment in the appeal brought by Anthony “Balkie” Maraj after hearing submissions during a virtual court hearing yesterday.
Maraj was convicted in January, last year, of murdering Sean Joel Pollard on March 18, 2008.
According to the evidence led at Maraj’s trial, Maraj was allegedly having an argument with Pollard’s common-law wife Natalie Nurse, her cousin and Pollard when Maraj stabbed Pollard in the left side of his abdomen.
However, Maraj contented that he was attacked by the group and the knife was Pollard’s.
Although he claimed that Pollard lunged at him and he managed to disarm him before stabbing him, the scenario he described was challenged by the pathologist Hughvon Des Vignes, who performed the autopsy on Pollard’s body and described the claim as impossible.
At the start of the appeal, Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Tricia Hudlin-Cooper conceded that the judge who presided over Maraj’s trial should have given the jury and opportunity to consider the lesser offence of manslaughter.
The suggestion was rejected by Maraj’s attorney Keith Scotland who submitted that a manslaughter conviction would not have been certain as there was some inconsistency over the evidence on the ownership of the knife.
Scotland noted that Nurse, who served as the State’s main witness was deemed hostile at trial and gave the varying accounts.
Scotland suggested that the jury could have acquitted Maraj if they believed that he was acting in self defense.
Despite his position, Scotland still requested that the court do a maximum sentence indication (MSI) to determine the sentence Maraj would face if he chose to plead guilty to the lesser offence and avoid a retrial which would more than likely take several years.
The appeal panel eventually declined as they agreed with Hudlin-Cooper that they did not have the sufficient sight of the evidence and reports in the case to perform the assessment.
During the appeal, Scotland also challenged the fact that judge suggested that the fact that Maraj was arrested almost a year after the incident should his guilt.
Hudlin-Cooper said the suggestion was not improper as prosecutors led evidence over the steps the police took to locate him and the judge also explained that there may have been innocent explanations for the situation.
Maraj is also being representing Raphael Morgan and Shawn Morris