Alleged gangster confesses to shooting victim in Q&A with cops

Alleged gangster confesses to shooting victim in Q&A with cops

BY ALICIA DUNKLEY-WILLIS
Senior staff reporter
dunkleywillisa@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

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AN alleged member of the Westmoreland-based King Valley gang, in a statement to the police two years ago, confessed to firing five bullets into the chest of Ika Clarke, whom he said was shot, chopped and burnt to death by members of the gang in March 2017 for daring to cross them.


The accused, Lindell Powell, alias Lazarus, is one of the eight alleged members of that gang charged in an indictment containing 11 counts on suspicion of conspiring to commit murder, rape and robbery with aggravation from as early as 2013.


Powell, along with Carlington Godfrey, alias Tommy; Rannaldo McKennis, otherwise known as Ratty; Derval Williams, also called Lukie; Hopeton Sankey, alias Bigga; Christon Grant, alias Ecoy; Copeland Sankey, also known as Tupac; and Sean Suckra, also called Elder, have been on trial before the Home Circuit Court in downtown Kingston since January 14.


The statement, emanating from a question-and-answer session with the then 18-year-old Powell who was taken into custody in relation to Clarke's death, was yesterday read into the records of the court by a police witness who was the scribe at the time of the interview at Savanna-la-Mar Police Station in Westmoreland, on July 15, 2017.


Powell, in that statement, admitted to knowing one of the other accused on trial — Godfrey — stating: “Mi just buy game from him when mi used to small; him work a food shop. Otherwise, mi hear seh him kill a man, dash inna Morgan's Bridge gutter and, officer, shoot him offa bike.”


Asked if he and Godfrey had ever worked together, he said: “Yes, when Ika Clarke was murdered.”


Powell, when questioned about the specific role he played in Clarke's murder, said, “Fire five shot inna him chest.”


When asked what role Godfrey played, Powell said: “Him chop him up, and a different person burn him.”


When he was asked who burned Clarke's body, he said: “Cat, from Kings Valley.”
Quizzed as to why Clarke was killed, Powell said: “Him did a mek talk seh mi cousin Bleachers cyaan bury, and mi a go dead, and him already kill one a mi fren.”


When asked how the gang members had found the hut where Clarke was hiding, Powell said in his statement: “A some Googling… Seh him inna hut pon hilltop, so wi go fi him.”
As to whether a gun found in his possession was the weapon used to kill Clarke, he had this to say: “Yes, but a nuh it alone kill him.”


Earlier this month, the star prosecution witness, who testified via live video link from an undisclosed location, told the court that Clarke had been killed by the gangsters because of a fuss.


He testified that he and several other members of the gang went looking for Clarke, and in the course of that search raped and robbed his sister as revenge. When the gangsters eventually caught up with Clarke sometime afterwards, the witness claimed that he was not present but had been told of Clarke's brutal end in graphic detail.


“I got a call from Tommy. He told me that him, Lazarus, Ratty, Owen, Elder, and Catman (allegedly now the leader of the gang) went up to bush and chop him up and shoot him, and stab him with a fork. Him seh Elder tek out him eyes dem and dem light him a fire, out him, and light him a fire again, and Owen tek up back di spent shell dem.

Tommy told me he was sorry I wasn't there to witness everything,” the witness told the court then.


Last Friday, one of Clarke's relatives described for the court the sheer dreadfulness of stumbling across the charred body of the man he said he had left in good health just the day before.


The prosecution witness, who cannot be identified for safety reasons, said when he returned the following day, “the hut burn down and Ika was there”.


“He was burnt up. His face burn off, his belly — is like nothing don't inside him belly. It come like everything inside a him belly burn out,” the witness detailed.


Asked how he was able to tell who the body belonged to, the witness said he was able to identify the body because of a childhood scar.


“There is a cut he got across him feet, and him feet never burn so the scar was there,” the witness told the court.


Last Friday, a police witness who visited the scene told the court that when he arrived there that morning he witnessed “the board and zinc hut on a hill that was partially on fire.


“I observed the charred remains of a male lying on its back on the ground. I also observed several 9mm spent casings laying on the ground around the body. The body was burnt almost completely from the head to the torso, in the region of the groin, only the left leg between the knee down wasn't burnt,” the court was told.


Meanwhile, the police officer said during the investigation into Clarke's murder, he received several names. He said Powell was, during that period, taken in by the police, interrogated and placed into custody. He also said Godfrey, who was already imprisoned elsewhere, was also questioned and charged jointly with Powell for Clarke's murder.

Neither man admitted any details in relation to the find, the court was told.


Before the adjournment on Friday, the Crown had proposed that certain edits be made to the document before it was read into the records, noting that aspects of it were thought to be prejudicial. Defence lawyers were also supportive of the move. However, trial judge Chief Justice Bryan Sykes questioned whether such a practice was grounded in statute or in the common law.


“Am I to understand that there is legal grounding for counsel and prosecution to agree to edit a statement made under caution before it is placed before the court?” he wanted to know.


“Perhaps I was inelegant in how I stated that. We are proposing that certain edits be made to the document before it is read into the records of the court,” a prosecutor explained.


When the court resumed sitting yesterday, the prosecutor indicated the Crown's intention to instead “restate the application for the question-and-answer document to be entered into evidence as exhibit 4”.


Defence Lawyer Abina Morris, however, objected, stating that she wanted the document edited on behalf of her client Carlington Godfrey, arguing that when people are jointly charged, statements taken from the individual accused are only to be seen as relevant to the giver of the statement, and not others mentioned.


Said Justice Sykes: “I strongly suspect what may have to happen is that the decider of facts, when there is a bench trial, will have to indicate what evidence was taken into account and what was not.”


Morris then questioned whether the matter could be heard outside the trial “to determine the admissibility of that portion of the question and answer”.


“That really isn't feasible. We are now in the trial itself and these are things resolved in the trial itself; as a practical matter, there isn't much to be done. Criminal practice and proceedings that currently exist do not allow for admissibility to be siphoned off to another judge and then the trial judge sits down and waits for it to come back at a later date. So this might prompt you to be a supporter of the reform of our trial practices,” Justice Sykes replied.


The trial is set to resume today.


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