(CMR) Bermuda lawyer Kamal Worrell was found guilty of the 2020 murder of his girlfriend, Chevelle Dillon-Burgess, on Wednesday.
This is a historic conviction for the British Overseas Territory because this is its first murder conviction without the victim's body. Also interesting in this case was the fact that the accused defended himself during the trial.
Worrell, who has denied allegations that he killed the mother of his child on an unknown date between April 10 and June 11, 2020, was found guilty by a jury in the Supreme Court on Wednesday after weeks of trial.
Dillon-Burgess, who was living with Worrell, disappeared in April 2020 and has not been seen since. Worrell denied killing her and told police that she had left their home after an argument on April 11, 2020.
This case began as a missing person report, and the subsequent investigation led to a murder inquiry. Despite the absence of the victim's body, the investigation never wavered, the police said.
According to the Royal Gazette, which reported on the trial, the court heard that Dillon-Burgess returned to the house briefly on April 16 to collect items, including a phone, but he had not seen her since that date.
Worrell was also found guilty of seven charges of common assault, six by unanimous decision and one by majority. He was remanded until sentencing on February 1.
During the trial, the court heard that Dillon-Burgess had accused Worrell of assault in relation to incidents in 2018 and 2019. She had said that arguments about their son had turned physical; however, she subsequently withdrew her allegations in both cases.
The prosecution told jurors that Worrell was upset with Dillon-Burgess because he thought she was ruining his career by pressing criminal charges against him for domestic violence.
On April 30, 2020, Dillon-Burgess was reported missing by her family, and despite an island-wide search, she has not been found.
During the trial, the court heard evidence from multiple witnesses who said that Ms Dillon-Burgess was not the type of person who would abandon her child.
Her friends and family also described the relationship between Worrell and Dillon-Burgess as rocky, with loud arguments and allegations of violence, the Royal Gazette reported.
Worrell, in his defense, said he would not have harmed Dillon-Burgess because he loves her.
Delivering his closing remarks in his defense, he said there was no evidence before the court to show that he killed Dillon-Burgess or disposed of her body.
“Speculation has no place in these chambers. If that was the case, we could have trials on social media,” he said.
“You may think in a matter like this that’s pretty important. When the prosecution alleges that someone killed someone, you may think they would be able to say as best they can when, where, and how,” Worrell reportedly said during his closing arguments.
According to the Royal Gazette, Worrell said, “It’s unfortunate for justice in this country they have brought this case without evidence.”
“It’s for the prosecutor to prove their case because, from the start, they didn’t have a case to prove. They didn’t even have a date when it happened,” he continued.
Darrin Simons, Commissioner of Police for Bermuda, commended the successful prosecution in a difficult domestic murder case.
Simons stated: “This case has been a particularly challenging one for law enforcement. I wish to acknowledge the dedication and hard work of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), as well as the detectives involved in all aspects of the search, investigation, and trial. Their tireless efforts and unwavering commitment to justice have resulted in this landmark conviction.”