Former PLP Senator Pleasant Bridgewater returned to court yesterday for the start of the high profile extortion trial involving actor John Travolta. (Photo/Torrell Glinton)
Jury Selected In Extortion Trial
By Sasha L. Lightbourne
The high profile extortion case involving Hollywood actor John Travolta and a former Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) senator started Monday morning in the Supreme Court, but not much happened.
Former PLP Senator Pleasant Bridgewater and her co-accused Tarino Lightbourne are accused of conspiring and attempting to extort some $25 million from Mr. Travolta after his 16-year-old son, Jett, died in the family’s Grand Bahama vacation home back in January.
Bridgewater is also charged with abetment.
Both were asked how they pleaded to the charges before Senior Supreme Court Justice Anita Allen to which they said "absolutely, positively, 100 percent not guilty."
Ms. Bridgewater is represented by attorneys Murrio Ducille and Krysta Smith while Mr. Lightbourne is represented by attorneys Carlson Shurland and Mary Bain.
Lead prosecutor in the case is Director of Public Prosecutions, Bernard Turner, who is assisted by Garvin Gaskin and Neil Braithwaite.
Following the not guilty pleas, the nine-member jury – six women and three men – were sworn in.
The trial is expected to proceed today at 10:00 a.m. when the prosecution will make opening statements.
However, The Bahama Journal reported last week that attorney Carlson Shurland had filed a constitutional motion to order the court to have the prosecution turn over certain witness statements and other evidence which he said is "crucial to the case", namely some video tapes.
Mr. Shurland told The Journal that he is still pursuing that matter and it is the reason for the trial taking an early adjournment.
Some witnesses expected to be called throughout the trial are John Travolta, PLP Senator Allyson Maynard-Gibson and PLP Member of Parliament for West End and Bimini Obie Wilchcombe, along with various police officers.
The trial is expected to last three weeks.