The defence in the murder trial of popular Portland businessman Everton ‘Beachy Stout’ McDonald and his co-accused, Oscar Barnes, will today begin to outline their defence of their clients who were on Monday freed of the charge of conspiracy to commit murder.
McDonald is on trial in the Home Circuit Court for the 2020 murder of his second wife Tonia and will go on trial in 2026 for the 2009 murder of his first wife Merlene.
In a major development on Monday, McDonald and Barnes were freed of the conspiracy to murder charge in the ongoing trial which commenced last September, after the presiding judge, Justice Chester Stamp, upheld a no-case submission by the defence with respect to that charge.
However, in a ruling handed down outside the presence of the seven-member jury and the media, Justice Stamp also ruled that the men had a case to answer in respect of the murder charge.
Attorneys-at-law Christopher Townsend, Courtney Rowe, John Jacobs, Earl Hamilton and his son, Jon-Paul, are representing McDonald while Ernest Davis and Vincent Wellesley are representing Barnes.
The attorneys had argued strenuously that there was no conspiracy and Justice Stamp was not convinced that the two men had conspired to kill Tonia McDonald, a 32-year-old businesswoman, whose partially burnt body, with the throat slashed and with several stab wounds, was found in Sherwood Forest, Portland, near her torched vehicle.
One man described as a contract killer, Denvalyn ‘Bubbla’ Minott, is currently serving a near 20-year prison sentence for his role in the murder. He has testified that McDonald hired him to kill his wife for an agreed sum of $3 million. He claimed he was unable to carry out the killing and subcontracted the murder to Barnes.
McDonald has maintained his innocence.