JUSTICE Chester Stamp on Monday allowed a voir dire to commence in the Everton “Beachy Stout” McDonald and Oscar Barnes murder trial in the Home Circuit Court, downtown Kingston.
The procedure will allow defence attorneys and prosecutors to discuss whether certain pieces of evidence can become admissible in the case and for Stamp to rule. It is essentially a trial within a trial and takes place outside of the presence of the seven-member jury.
The voir dire began on Monday afternoon and is expected to last until early next week. The media will not be allowed to report on the proceedings until after a ruling has been handed down.
McDonald and Barnes are on trial for the July 20, 2020 murder of McDonald’s second wife, Tonia McDonald, who was stabbed multiple times and her body burnt and found outside her razed motor vehicle on the Sherwood Forest main road in Portland.
According to more than one of the five witnesses who have previously taken the stand in the case, including the victim’s mother, McDonald constantly accused his wife of having extramarital relationships and had made numerous attempts to harm her.
The first witness, a former employee of Beachy Stout, told the court that his boss had sent him to buy glass bottles to store acid. According to the witness, Beachy Stout vowed to use the acid on Tonia to disfigure her.
The second witness, Denvalyn “Bubbla” Minott, claimed he was hired by McDonald to murder Tonia by stabbing. Minott told the court that McDonald promised him $3 million if he could kill her. However, he was to do the job on his own. The witness further claimed that he did not know how to stab anyone to death so he disobeyed the orders he got from McDonald and decided to bring in Barnes, who he claimed committed the murder. Minott had previously confessed to his role as the contractor in the murder and was sentenced to 19 1/2 years in prison. Through a deal with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, Minott turned State’s witness.
According to Minott, he did not receive any of the $3 million that was allegedly promised by the businessman.
The victim’s mother was the third witness to take the stand last week. According to her, Tonia ran away from her husband every year during their marriage, going back to her family home in St Mary. The mother claimed that on numerous occasions Beachy Stout complained to her about Tonia cheating on him.
The fourth witness was a St Catherine man who claimed that McDonald contracted him to throw acid on Tonia and even paid him to do it. However, he said she was too beautiful and therefore did not carry out the act. Instead, he said, he dodged McDonald and reported the matter to the police.
The policeman the witness spoke about took the stand on Friday and told the court that he received a bottle of acid and that he had been made aware of the plot to burn Tonia with the substance.
The matter resumes next week.