State to respond to death row inmate’s bid for freedom

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Justice Joan Charles. –

THE High Court judge hearing the application of convicted killer Daniel Agard, who wants his death sentence vacated and to be removed from death row, says she wants to hear from the State, as the claim was of great public importance, with far -reaching consequences.

On Monday, Justice Joan Charles ordered the State to respond to Agard’s affidavit by April 6 and reply to his attorneys’ submissions by April 20.

The matter will come up for hearing again on May 5.

In addition to wanting his death sentence vacated and his removal from death row, Agard also wants Charles to sentence him.

Agard’s case will have implications for other death-row inmates who have spent more than five years awaiting execution.

He has applied for an interim declaration that any attempt to carry out the death sentence imposed on him on September 13, 2013, and his continued detention on death row will contravene the Constitution.

Agard, 39, was twice convicted of the brutal murders of the Cropper family in 2001.

He first went to trial in 2004, when he and another man, Lester Pitman, were convicted and sentenced to hang for the triple murders of Maggie Lee, Lynette Lithgow-Pearson and John Cropper on December 11, 2001.

Agard was the great-nephew of John and the late independent senator Angela Cropper, while Lee was his great-grandmother and Pearson his great-aunt.

Agard successfully appealed his convictions and a retrial was ordered. He was again convicted on September 13, 2013 and three death sentences were again imposed on him, which he appealed and lost in July 2019.

He did not appeal further to the Privy Council and his application said he has remained on death row since September 2013, a period of nine years, five months and 17 days. In all, he has spent 21 years in prison from the time of his arrest and charge in 2001, and ten years and two months on death row for his two sets of convictions.