Donna Vasyli, 62, the woman accused of killing her Australian tycoon husband Philip Vasyli, a well-known podiatrist and businessman, was acquitted of his murder late Thursday after fighting the charge for eight years in Bahamian courts.
The nine-member jury returned a ‘not-guilty’ verdict and she is free.
Here is a timeline of the major events related to the case:
March 24, 2015
Dr Philip Vasyli was discovered dead with four stab wounds on the kitchen floor of the guest house on his Old Fort Bay property. One stab wound was found in the chest, which was estimated to be 14 centimeters deep.
A pathologist said the knife slit his subclavian artery, and he most likely stumbled to the kitchen after being stabbed on his patio.
A house worker found him seven hours later after his death.
March 30, 2015
Donna, represented by Bahamian famed lawyer Murrio Ducille was arraigned in a Magistrate’s Court on a murder charge after 34 years of marriage to Philip. At the end of her arraignment, she was not given bail because Chief Magistrate Joyann Ferguson did not have the jurisdiction to do so.
April 2, 2015
Donna made a bail application in the Supreme Court but was denied by Senior Justice Stephen Isaacs, who was not satisfied that she should be granted bail at the time. Ducille was given the option to appeal the ruling in the Court of Appeal.
November 10, 2015
Donna was sentenced to 20 years in prison but her legal team promised to challenge the guilty verdict. Lawyers said she felt “betrayed by the jurors who convicted her with no evidence.”
In a police interview, Donna told authorities that Philip was drinking heavily with his trousers hanging before he fell down a flight of stairs. She had warned him that house guests were soon to arrive at the house. Her defense team argued that a few hours later, he was found dead.
Her lawyers claimed that the marriage was in ruins because of domestic abuse and Phil’s abuse of alcohol and cocaine.
July 25, 2017
Donna’s legal team appealed and the Court of Appeal quashed her 20-year sentence. She was ordered a new case and it was sent back to the Supreme Court.
One ground for the retrial was confusion over the clothing she wore the night of the murder. Donna said she wore two different outfits but neither was a multicolored dress the prosecution said she wore and placed in a closet, that contained blood from Philip.
She was released on 250,000 dollar bail until her new trial.
October 22, 2020
The Court of Appeal ordered a second trial. Donna attended the hearing, virtually.
October 12, 2022
It was announced that the case was back on as prosecutors say she had a case to answer. A date was not set but nine jurors were selected and she was expected to stand before Justice Bernard Turner.
March 9, 2023
Following five months of trial which was closed to the public, Donna was cleared of the murder charge when a unanimous verdict was given by a nine-member jury. She was represented by Damien Gomez KC, KD Knight and Owen Wells. Wells said Donna was “relieved.”
Featured Photo: Keith Gomez of Freelance Media Group