Hollis guilty of manslaughter, still questions remain as to why Bell died

Originally charged with murdering 49-year-old Daemon Bell, today saw Ajamu Hollis accept a plea deal with prosecutors, admitting to a charge of manslaughter, relative to the February 2, 2022 unlawful death of the off-duty prison officer at Shelly Bay Park, Hamilton Parish.

Mr Bell died following a violent altercation with Hollis involving a garden hoe, a fight which was said to have included other participants gathered at the watering hole.

Following weeks of testimony and Wednesday’s closing arguments by both sides Hollis this morning pleaded guilty to the amended charge of manslaughter.

Perhaps wary of the case of murder slipping away the posecution were said to have approached defence lawyer Charles Richardson with the offer of a plea deal, where Hollis would admit to manslaughter. This after the Crown had rejected a much earlier suggestion by the defence of the very same deal.

“When I got to court this morning the prosecutor walked up to me and said: ‘Do you remember the deal you offered right before the trial?’ Richardson told TNN’s Trevor Lindsay after the trial stage of the case. “I said: ‘Ya’. And he said, ‘I think I’m reconsidering it now.’
“I said: ‘Cool, that deal’s still on the table’, which was relative to manslaughter.”

With Richardson having managed to highlight inconsistent testimonies from various prosecution witnesses, as well as pointing out failings in the manner of examination of CCTV video evidence by police investigators Richardson was asked if the case had been botched prior to and during the trial.

“I wouldn’t say that they were totally unjustified in bringing in a murder charge,” said Richardson. “But I would say that, as things panned out and began to distil, it should have been clear to everybody that the right result was manslaughter.

From the outset Richardson appeared to place the Crown on the back foot, demonstrating himself as a barrister at the peak of his powers, skilfully manoeuvring in his client’s defence.

Asked of his consistent success at defending clients against seemingly tall odds Richardson was modest in his remarks, saying, “It’s returned action for what you do bro.
“You have to love and believe what you do actually makes a difference.”

Still, while Richardson could take credit in garnering a lesser charge, he remained very aware and sympathetic to the family of the deceased, hinting at the notion that there may have been other contributary factors post fight that directly influenced Mr Bell’s death.

During the course of the case medical records were subpoenaed, from King Edward VII Memorial hospital, leading to questions regarding the quality of medical treatment received by the deceased.

“My client, he’s pleased with the result, but I don’t think anybody was pleased with the fact that the gentleman had to lose his life at all,” added Richardson. “There were circumstances surrounding this case where there is a strong suggestion he should not have died.

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