Freeport resident pleads guilty to obstruction of justice charge

FORMALLY CHARGED — Donovan Hanna was escorted into the Freeport Magistrate Court on Monday December 3 where he pleaded guilty to the charge of obstruction of justice. (PHOTO: JENNEVA RUSSELL)

Donovan Hanna aged 26, a resident of Hearne Lane was hauled before the Freeport Magistrate’s Court # 2, appearing before Magistrate Charlton Smith, to answer to the charge of obstruction of justice on Monday December 3.

According to the charge, Hanna, on Tuesday November 27, 2018 in Freeport, Grand Bahama, attempted to obstruct justice by improperly communicating with a female who was appearing as a juror on an ongoing murder trial taking place in the Supreme Court.

Hanna was questioned by Magistrate Smith whether he would like to have the matter heard in the Magistrate’s Court or the Supreme Court, to which he responded, “ Magistrate’s Court.” He was further asked whether he pleaded guilty or not guilty, to which he responded, “guilty.”

Particulars from the prosecutor were that on November 27, the juror in question who was sitting on the murder trial, between the Crown and Renaldo Hudson, came into the Central Police Station and informed police officials that while on break in the Jury room, she received a phone call from Hanna, whom she stated she had known for many years.

She reportedly informed the Police that after ignoring a number of calls from him (Hanna), she eventually answered and was asked, allegedly to meet up with Hanna.

The Police report disclosed further that Hanna allegedly proceeded to question the juror with respect to what was taking place during the trial, informing her that the defendant was his “brethren.” She reportedly told Hanna that she was unable to discuss the case with him to which she shared that he responded: “Miss, you think they care about you? You think they care about you all?”

The prosecutor added that as a result of the conversation, the juror was in fear of her life and therefore showed the text to her foreman who then reported the matter to Justice Estelle Gray Evans.

The matter before the Supreme Courts therefore resulted in a mistrial.

On Friday November 30, Hanna was taken into custody and interviewed by police officials, under caution.  He denied the allegations.

The court was also informed by the prosecutor that Hanna has a number of previous court matters.

Hanna maintained that he was not guilty of the charge and said that the conversation between himself and the juror never took place, regarding the particulars of the trial involving Hudson, nor any other trial for that matter. While he did admit speaking with the juror he said that their conversation had nothing to do with the trial but instead involved an unrelated matter with respect to renting a vehicle.

“I never threatened her. I never said anything to her about a trial. I only talked to her about getting an SD (Self Drive vehicle),” said Hanna.

Smith questioned Hanna: “So are you saying that you never said those things to her?”

Hanna responded, “No, sir.”

Smith continued to question Hanna: “So do you plead guilty or not guilty?”

Hanna answered: “Not guilty.”

As Hanna was then informed by Smith that he would be remanded to the Bahamas Department of Corrections until March 2019, until a Voluntary Bill of Indictment (VBI) trial would commence, Hanna then retracted his not guilty plea and maintained his initial guilty plea to the obstruction of justice charge before him.

Smith stated: “Is it your intention to maintain your not guilty plea as you go to trial?”

Hanna then stated: “I plead guilty.”

He was then informed by Smith that the justice system is one of the greatest institutions in any country, to keep a balance.

“When you find that persons seek to interfere with the justice system it is a serious indictment and we cannot have that prevailing in this country.

“In these circumstances the only appropriate sentence is one of a custodial sentence. I sentence you to 18 months at the BDCS.

“Society must be warned that this type of conduct will not be tolerated,” stated Smith.

On Tuesday November 27, Renaldo Hudson’s murder trial was postponed in the Supreme Court. Hudson is on trial for the double murder and attempted murder of Jacqueline Armbrister, Noel Hamilton and Agatha Gaitor respectively. On March 21, 2016 the bodies of the deceased persons were discovered with apparent gunshot wounds about their bodies, in a wooden structure on Bruce Avenue and Hearne Lane. Armbrister and Hamilton were 55 and 57 years old respectively, at the time of their demise.

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