GUILTY

Tesha Miller convicted in 2008 murder of JUTC boss, attorney to file appeal

BY RACQUEL PORTER
Observer staff reporter
porterr@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

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Eleven years after Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) Chairman Douglas Chambers was shot dead by gunmen in Spanish Town, St Catherine, Tesha Miller was yesterday afternoon convicted for orchestrating the brutal killing.

After deliberating for three hours and 12 minutes a jury consisting of six women and one man handed down a unanimous guilty verdict in the Supreme Court.

The St Catherine welder, who was charged with being an accessory before and after the fact in relation to the June 27, 2008 killing, was convicted on the 11th day of the trial that started on November 13, 2019.

When the soft-spoken foreman presented the guilty verdict on both counts minutes after 2:00 pm Miller, who was sitting in the dock, slightly tilted his head back and looked at the ceiling.

Miller, who appeared focused during the trial and showed no emotions, appeared sad as he looked in the direction of reporters covering the trial.

Moments later, beads of sweat could be seen on his forehead as he was being led out of the air-conditioned courtroom in handcuffs.

Miller is scheduled for sentencing on January 9, 2020.

During the trial, the prosecution's star witness testified that on November 14, during a meeting on Studio Lane in St Catherine, Miller gave him instructions to form a diversion group on the day of the murder.

The self-styled former gangster, who was convicted for murder and attempted arson in 2018, testified that Miller told him to develop a diversion plan because he was sending Andre “Blackman” Bryan to kill Chambers.

On day two of the trial, during the morning session, the witness testified that he was standing at a stall across from the JUTC depot in Spanish Town when he saw “Blackman” and another man he identified as “Bruckie” exit a motor vehicle and fired at Chambers.

Although he said both men carried out the execution, he admitted that he was unable to see Blackman's face because he was wearing a black pullover.

However, the witness said he knew it was Blackman because he had handed over two guns to him and Bruckie prior to the killing.

On day four of the trial, the former gangster turned State witness confessed that he “started to fire whole heap a shot in the air, so di shot dat we fire in di air [was] to scare the people that were coming out so dat di man dem could escape”.

When the prosecutor asked him how long he had firing the shots, he replied, “Not for very long.”

The witness, who was on the stand for six days, also testified that when he made enquiries of Bryan's whereabouts after Chambers had been killed, Miller told him that he had sent him on a boat to the Cayman Islands because the “heat was coming down” on him.

Bryan was acquitted of Chambers' murder in 2016.

It had emerged during the trial that the 29-year-old witness had been sentenced to life in prison and would not have been eligible for parole until he served 16 years, but had his time reduced to 10 years after making a plea bargain deal with the director of public prosecutions a day before the trial.

During re-examination by the prosecutor, the witness said he was testifying because he wanted to stop the blood-letting in the Old Capital.

During cross-examination by Miller's attorney, Bert Samuels, the witness insisted that he had not taken the deal for a reduced sentence. He was motived to give evidence, he said, because 13 of his family members were killed between 2013 and 2015.

Notwithstanding variations in his 14-page statement that took him 13 months and four days to complete, the witness maintained throughout the trial that Miller told him that Chambers' killing was a hit and that he (Miller) had authorised it.

During further cross-examination by Samuels the witness denied the attorney's suggestions that he had never met Miller until he saw him in the dock and what he said he knew about Miller was hearsay.

However, the prosecutor, during the closing arguments, reminded the jurors that the witness who said he had been raised by the Klansman gang and that he had been a member since he was 13 years old explained the inconsistencies in his statement during re-examination and that they should provide a verdict according to the evidence that was presented in court.

“The best person to identify a criminal and criminal actions is a criminal,” the prosecutor said.

On Thursday, November 28, Miller professed his innocence in an unsworn statement from the dock, telling the court that he was a welder and that he didn't't know the witness.

“The first time I see him is when he come here before this court to give evidence,” Miller said.

“I have never send anyone to kill anyone. I have never send anyone to Cayman. I honestly swear that I don't know anything and I am innocent,” Miller said, before taking his seat.

After the verdict was handed down, Samuels told reporters that he will be filing an appeal on behalf of his client.

“…During the jury selection, I sought to make my third of four challenges that I am entitled to by law and I was prevented from doing that by the learned trial judge who said that I only have two pre-emptive challenges. The law is clear on that matter, that a person who is charged with accessory before the fact is sentenced in the same way as the principal, and the law is cleared that persons who are sentenced or found guilty for murder, or charged for murder rather, they have four challenges. Mr Miller was denied two, in my humble opinion, two of his four challenges, and that is an issue which any court of appeal, if they agree with me, will definitely at least ask for a re-trial,” Samuels said.

Noting that his client had been convicted before and later won his appeal, Samuels, in reference to the Appeal Court which is sited across the street from the Supreme Court, said: “I think it is across King Street that justice will come in this matter.”

In December 2010, Miller was convicted of robbing a man of his motor car. He was sentenced in 2011 by Justice Carol Beswick to seven years in prison on a charge of illegal possession of a firearm, and 15 years for robbery with aggravation.

However, he was freed of the charges in the Appeal Court in 2013.

Yesterday, Miller's mother, Sophia James, who had been attending the trial, expressed disappointment with the verdict.

“It can't be good. Life is like this, it can't be,” James said.


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