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'I PREFER PRISON'

Crown witness in Tesha Miller trial says not motivated by plea deal

BY RACQUEL PORTER
Observer staff reporter
porterr@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

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An admission by a Crown witness that he prefers to remain in prison rather than being released early under a plea bargain deal he signed with the State surprised many people in the Home Circuit Court on day four of the Tesha Miller trial yesterday.

The witness, who is being referred to as Witness One by the Jamaica Observer because the court instructed that all witnesses remain anonymous, made the revelation during cross-examination by defence attorney Bert Samuels in the afternoon session yesterday.

Witness One, who received a life sentence for murder, would have had to serve 16 years before being eligible for parole.

Yesterday, Samuels suggested to him that after serving one-third of his sentence he would have been able to apply for parole next year, and as such would have been eligible to make an application for parole before he made the plea bargain last week.

Samuels suggested to Witness One, who admitted to being a former member of the Klansman gang, that the Director of Public Prosecutions' (DPP's) bargain was attractive, that's why he took it.

“No,” said the 29-year-old witness, who last Friday told the court that he decided to testify after 13 of his family members had been killed between 2013 and 2015.

Insisting that he started giving his statement to the police before he went into custody and pleaded guilty to murder, Witness One said he wanted to put an end to the crime and violence in Spanish Town, St Catherine.

Samuels submitted to the witness that he made no contact with Miller who is on trial for being an accessory before and after the fact in relation to the June 27, 2008 murder of then Jamaica Urban Transit Company Chairman Douglas Chambers.

“Me and him talk before and after,” the witness replied.

“Tesha Miller give mi gun, buy mi Clarks; him buy mi clothes,” he said, asking Samuels if he wanted him to go any further.

“I will pursue my statement. This is not the matter of reducing sentence,” the witness continued. “Anything I am saying is [of] my own.”

Samuels then asked: “So the feeling came over you and you send for the DPP?”

Witness One replied: “I was already giving the statement.”

Samuels asked him if, when he pleaded guilty to murder, he had been aware of the plea bargain system.

Witness One said he told the DPP that he would testify without a reduction in sentence.

“Do you intend to apply for parole after three years?” the attorney asked.

“No,” the witness replied.

“Yuh nuh waan come out?” Samuels pressed.

“Mi alright,” the witness said.

“Yuh nuh waan come out?” Samuels repeated.

“Mi prefer prison dan out a road,” said the witness.

Samuels then asked Witness One if he had refused a reduction in sentence from 16 years to 10 years.

“What I want you to understand is, remember that I am a criminal. I have killed people,” the witness stated.

“How many?” Samuels asked.

“A lot,” the witness replied.

In the morning session, after the prosecution completed its evidence-in-chief, Samuels submitted to the witness that his testimony on the stand varies from the original statement that he gave to the police.

Samuels told him that parts of the testimony he gave last week were not in the statement he gave to the police, which he had signed.

Witness One, who sought to explain on numerous occasions during the trial why he said certain things in his 14-page statement that took him 13 months and four days to complete, said: “Everything that I said here from the start to the finish is the truth.”

Insisting that the former gangster took the deal to serve a lesser sentence, Samuels suggested to the witness that he was not being truthful about being a member of the gang for 13 years.

Samuels put to the witness that in his statement to the police, he stated that he was a member of the gang for only five months.

But the witness replied that he could explain why he said so in his statement.

Samuels suggested further that in 2011 the witness, during a question-and-answer session by the police, said “Home Blingers” was the leader of the Klansman gang.

“Yes,” Witness One told the court.

“Did you sign it (question and answer)?” Samuels asked.

“Yes, if I can explain myself you will understand,” replied the witness.

The trial is expected to continue today.


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