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Jonathan Lehrer returning to prison after his bail application failed last week (CMC File Photo)

Dominica: Murder accused American denied bail

April 26, 2024

ROSEAU, Dominica, CMC – High Court judge, Justice Colin Williams, says while murder accused Jonathan Lehrer, “has certain medical needs” there are absolutely no conclusive findings” that he has cancer.

The US-born hotelier had sought bail in order to travel overseas for medical treatment.

But Justice Williams in providing the written ruling for his decision last week Thursday to deny the bail application by Lehrer, said it is premature to enter into any consideration of the accused travelling overseas for robotic prostatectomy versus laparotomy which is available in Dominica.

“Should one engage in the treatment of a condition that is not yet known to exist? Certainly not. What is needed at this time is a fulsome diagnosis to ascertain the claimant’s true condition, then after that one can address any issues which become apparent,” the judge said in refusing the bail application for Lehrer, one of two American nationals charged with the murders of famed Canadian animator Daniel Langlois, 66, and his longtime partner Dominique Marchand, 58.

Justice Williams said Lehrer 58, is at an age where his medical complaints may not be unfamiliar to males in his age group and that he is also among the oldest people on remand at the prison here.

He said while the restrictions of being in prison may be difficult and challenging for any individual, including Lehrer “ the rule of law and the operation of the justice system means that persons accused of murder end up being on remand at prison unless substantial reasons exist for their release”.

Further, the judge noted that Lehrer “possesses the means to abscond if granted bail,” adding “he is asking to go to the country of his birth for medical attention, including having a procedure done that has not yet been determined is needed.

“He has the means to relocate. He does not have to be resident in the Commonwealth of Dominica to reap the benefits and profits of his productive investments in Dominica. He has historical ties in the United States of America and he has family members who are in the United States of America,” the judge wrote.

In December last year, murder charges were filed against Lehrer, 57, and 62-year-old Robert Snyder Jr., over the deaths of animation pioneer and Quebec philanthropist Daniel Langlois and his partner.

The prosecution alleges that between November 29 and December 2, 2023, the two Americans murdered Langlois and his partner Marchand.

Their bodies were found incinerated in a car near Gallion, in the south of the island where they owned a hotel. Langlois and Marchand had been reported missing for several days.

The Americans were not required to enter a plea in the magistrate’s court, since murder is an indictable offence and can only be tried before a judge and jury at the High Court.

Lehrer and Langlois had fought bitterly over the use of a road that sliced through the former’s property on the Bois Cotlette Estate, one of the oldest plantations in Dominica.

But the High Court had ruled that the road was public.

Langlois had made a fortune developing cutting-edge 3D animation software for the company he founded, Softimage, that was used in Hollywood blockbusters such as “Jurassic Park,” “Star Wars,” and “The Matrix.”

In 1994, he sold his company to Microsoft, and three years later was awarded a Scientific and Technical Oscar, according to his foundation’s website.

Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Sherma Dalrymple, said the prosecution intends to have the trial start at the September Assizes, “because we go back to court to present paper committal bundles in July,” adding that the evidence against the accused men has to be made a available to the defence by June 18.

In his ruling Justice Williams, every effort has been made by the prison authorities to accommodate Lehrer receiving “what can be described as preferential treatment” and that while up to 36 people are placed in a single cell, the American murder accused is placed in a cell by himself.

“The claimant has the privilege of being provided from outside of the prison with whatever food he requires to meet his recommended dietary needs and does not have to depend on the diet available at the prison,” the judge wrote, adding that Lehrer is also allowed to be seen by his private medical practitioner.

Justice Williams also noted the accused has not met the requirements of a section of the Bail Act that “mandates” he must show “that there is just cause in all the circumstances to grant him bail.

“Given the facts and circumstances disclosed in the claimant’s application, as well as his failure to be candid regarding his citizenship of the United States of America and his non-disclosure about his family members residing  in the United States of America, the claimant has not satisfactorily establish that circumstances exist to justify the granting  of bail as contemplated by section 7 (1) of the Bail Act,” Justice Williams wrote.

Jonathan Lehrer returning to prison after his bail application failed last week (CMC File Photo)

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