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Appeal court told jurors rushed verdict in murder trial

A half-brother and sister jailed for a 2006 murder yesterday appealed for their convictions to be be quashed after a claim that jurors rushed their decision to avoid being sequestered overnight.

Katrina Burgess and Cleveland Rogers were found guilty last March of the premeditated murder of Marcus Gibbings, who was 32.

But an affidavit submitted to the Court of Appeal said a juror later approached Marc Daniels, who had represented Rogers at the trial, and spoke to him about the decision.

The juror was said to have told Mr Daniels that the jury had been split on the verdict, but those in favour of aquittal allowed the defendants to be convicted so the jury would not have to spend a night in a hotel.

The jury delivered a unanimous verdict against Burgess and Rogers after about five hours of deliberation.

Sir Christopher Clarke, the president of the Court of Appeal, said the allegation needed examination and that an investigation should be carried out.

Charles Richardson, the counsel for Burgess at the appeal and the trial, argued the cases against the two defendants should have been handled separately rather than in a single trial.

A motion was heard by the Supreme Court before the trial, but it was heard by a different judge from the one who presided at the trial.

Mr Richardson said there was no evidence against his client to suggest she had planned anything with her co-accused or that she was involved in the murder, but her case was complicated by the evidence against Rogers.

Mr Richardson added there was “repeated overlap” which left it nearly impossible for jurors to separate the evidence against each defendant.

He said: “It’s a tangle that cannot be untangled. This was a case for which the tangle could not be undone.”

Mr Richardson added that he did not push for the separation of the cases with the trial judge because there had been a practice of Supreme Court judges not overruling one another.

He also raised concerns about how the court handled evidence of a voicemail left by Burgess on the victim’s phone.

Mr Richardson said that Burgess had told police about the message and officers had access to the phone, but they never attempted to access or preserve the message.

He added that Burgess should have been given the benefit of the doubt on the content of the message, but the judge had left it open to the jury to consider.

Prosecutors alleged that Burgess, the former girlfriend of Mr Gibbings, had paid Rogers $5,000 to commit the murder after the victim cheated on her and ended their relationship.

Mr Gibbings was found in a pool of blood in a Derwent Lane, Devonshire apartment on October 26, 2006.

The court heard he had shared the apartment with Burgess until weeks before the murder, but was in the process of moving out.

An autopsy revealed he had suffered multiple stab wounds including one to his face and two to his chest, one of which struck his heart.

The trial heard evidence from two witnesses — both former girlfriends of Rogers — who alleged that he confessed to the murder.

One said Rogers had told her he had waited behind a couch and ambushed Mr Gibbings when he came into the apartment.

Neither told police about the confessions until 2018, when Rogers was behind bars for an unrelated conviction for having unlawful carnal knowledge of a 13-year-old girl.

The hearing continues.

•It is The Royal Gazette’s policy not to allow comments on stories regarding court cases. As we are legally liable for any slanderous or defamatory comments made on our website, this move is for our protection as well as that of our readers.