Policeman granted $125,000 bail
Villagers move protest to city
Stabroek News
November 14, 2001

The Cove and John Magistrate's Court was a scene of pandemonium yesterday after Magistrate Maxwell Edwards fixed bail in the sum of $125,000 for police officer and manslaughter accused Junior McKenzie who allegedly shot Sonia Jerrick to death at Beehive, East Coast Demerara on October 23.

The court was disrupted for over half an hour after outraged Anns Grove residents, mainly female, broke down in tears and some lost consciousness after they stormed the court when the magistrate made the pronouncement.

Attorney-at-law, Nigel Niles, who entered appearance for the defendant in association with Basil Williams, renewed the application for bail by reiterating what Williams had earlier said. Niles posited that his client would not escape the jurisdiction of the court and undertook to have him present whenever the case was called.

Edwards said that he was granting bail to the accused on the grounds that his father held high office in the Guyana Police Force and whether he escaped or not would prove how committed his father was to the force. He also posited that the commencement of the preliminary inquiry (PI) should help console many and satisfy the public's curiosity in the case.

Yesterday was also the beginning of the PI inquiry and State-appointed Prosecutor, Inspector Paul Walker, called three witnesses. One of the witnesses, a police officer who was present at the time of Jerrick's shooting, Walker said, was unable to testify as he was still "traumatised" by the incident. The prosecutor, undertook to have him treated by a psychologist.

The other witnesses who testified were Subordinate Officer, at the Clonbrook Police Station, Woman Police Corporal, Beverly Demonick, and Detective Sergeant Kwayana Bobb, stationed at Cove and John outpost. The accused was attached to the Clonbrook station.

The magistrate has set January 2, 2002 as the date for the continuation of the case.

Meanwhile, as is customary ever since the proceedings started two weeks ago, protestors gathered early before the court commenced yesterday morning with placards bearing slogans like "No Justice No Peace" and "Murder Is Murder Not Manslaughter". They maintained their lines, but as soon as the prison van entered the compound with McKenzie, confusion and pandemonium ensued.

The accused, cognisant of the media's presence, covered his face with a book and quickly climbed up the court steps.

When the magistrate fixed bail, the deceased's mother collapsed in the court. She had to be revived after she fainted several times.

In the courtyard the protest escalated with persons shouting "Murderer" after they heard the accused had been bailed, and making other derogatory remarks to police officers who were keeping guard at the court. They made an attempt to leave the courtyard, but subsequently changed their minds and remained for over 45 minutes shouting and chanting.

They later left the compound and headed for the city, where they visited Leader of the Justice For All Party, C.N. Sharma. Sharma told the protestors that they had a legitimate right to protest and pledged his support towards the cause.

Led by some popular faces, the protestors took their protest to the entrance of the PPP/Civic headquarters, Freedom House, across the street and maintained their chants of "No Justice No Peace" for over one hour before they dispersed.

Father of the deceased, Rudy Jerrick, in an invited comment, told this newspaper that, he felt very saddened at what had occurred so far. Jerrick said he wasn't pleased that bail had been granted to the accused and also expressed dissatisfaction at the sum.

He maintained that the protest would continue until justice was achieved.

McKenzie, 19, of 173 Melanie Damishana is accused of killing Sonia Jerrick known as 'Chucks' on October 23. Jerrick's body was discovered near a village bridge, with her purse slung on her side and hands clenched. She had a gunshot wound to her nose and a bruise to her face.