Headline — 23 April 2013 — by Rochelle Gillett
John Baptist, Sr., 38, guilty of aggravated assault of an indecent nature

Baptist was convicted on two out of four charges; sentencing May 3

Last week, John Baptist, Sr., 38, was a man on the run after his case had gone to trial in the Supreme Court of Justice John Troadio Gonzalez and he did not make an appearance in court.

Baptist had been accused of carnal knowledge and three counts of aggravated assault of an indecent nature after a female, now 15, reported to police that he had had sexual intercourse with her when she was 6, and had touched her inappropriately on three separate occasions over a period of almost ten years.

After the Crown, represented by Leroy Banner, had closed its case, Baptist presented his defense to the court. In his dock statement, Baptist told the court that at the time of the incidents, he was nowhere near the house of which the child spoke.

But when last week Monday arrived, and the trial was supposed to be summed up by the judge, Baptist was a no-show and a bench warrant was sent out for his immediate arrest.

His freedom was short-lived, as on Friday, April 19, Baptist was back in the hands of the police, and was escorted up to the Supreme Court to determine what would be done to him and his sureties.

When he finally appeared before the judge, Baptist told the court that he had left Sibun on Friday, April 12, and when his source of transportation was to have come for him, it didn’t. He said that when he tried contacting the driver of the vehicle, he got no answer.

Then he told the court that Sibun is seven miles away from the George Price Highway, and that he couldn’t charge his phone there, hence the reason he couldn’t call anyone else to come for him. He said that it was on Thursday night, April 18, when he was attempting to walk out of Sibun to the highway, that he was met by some officers in a police mobile unit, who then informed him that they were just coming to take him into custody.

The judge didn’t believe his story, and when his sureties were addressed, they were informed that they would have to pay the sureties of $2,500 each that they had signed for Baptist. When asked the length of time they needed in order to make the payment, one of the sureties suggested a year and a half, which the judge immediately dismissed.

The surety then told the judge that she is poor and struggling, but the judge informed her that when she signed as a surety, she was telling the court that if the person didn’t show up for any of his court proceedings, that she would pay the amount signed for.

The judge then deferred his decision about the sureties until after the verdict was decided by the jury. That decision was a long and arduous one, as the jury of nine deliberated for almost five hours before coming to a decision on the four charges.

For the carnal knowledge charge, the jury was divided on their decision in a ratio that the court could not accept. On the first count of aggravated assault of an indecent nature, the jury found Baptist not guilty, but on the third and fourth counts, which are both for aggravated assault of an indecent nature, the jury found Baptist unanimously guilty.

Judge John Troadio Gonzalez then asked Baptist if he would need time to prepare his mitigation, and also get people to speak on his behalf, to which he replied yes.

Sentencing has thus been deferred until May 3, 2013.

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