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Jailhouse confession clash

'That can't be a lie,' witness insists to defence lawyer

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

Friday, November 15, 2019

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A star prosecution witness in the ongoing trial of two men accused of the murder and beheading of a mother and daughter at their home in St Catherine eight years ago, yesterday stoutly denied suggestions by a defence attorney that he was lying about the jailhouse confession he said was made to him by one of the accused.

The witness, who was taking the stand for the first time since the trial began last week, testified that the accused, Kemar Riley, told him that he shot the daughter, Joeith Lynch, because she was bawling “out too loud” while being chopped by another of the accused men.

Lynch, 19, and her 49-year-old mother Charmaine Rattray were hacked, shot and beheaded at their house in Lauriston, St Catherine by a group of marauding gunmen in July 2011.

Yesterday, the witness testified that he was a former friend and roommate of Adrian Campbell, one of the five accused in the matter. Campbell and two other accused Roshane Goldson and Fabian Smith last week pleaded guilty to non-capital murder. Their sentencing hearing is set for Wednesday, December 11.

Riley and co-accused Sanja Ducally have pleaded not guilty to murder.

Yesterday, the witness told the court that after he was picked up by the police on July 26, 2011 from a location in St Andrew, he and Campbell were taken to Half-Way-Tree Police Station. He said they were then transferred to Spanish Town Police Station where he was placed in the holding area and separated from Campbell. He said he then saw Kemar Riley entering the holding area hopping on one foot.

According to the witness, he was familiar with Riley because he was a friend of his roommate and would often be at the house they shared, but he was not a person he “really talk up to”.

“I went over to him; I was concerned that I was in lock-up and I didn't know why. I asked him what really gwaan round so. Him did a move likkle ignorant and say him caan believe wha really gwaan,” the witness told the court.

“When him come in Wednesday him did tell mi some tings why dem held Adrian and me. Him tell mi say a bare eediat ting gwaan round a Lauriston, him say to me dat yuh nuh hear bout di woman an' har dawta roun' pon di road deh?” the witness relayed.

“So mi seh, 'Mi hear a ting pon di news but mi nuh know wha gwaan,' so him tun to mi an tell mi seh him 'bex wah gwaan 'cause dat shouldn't gwaan',” the witness said.

He said in the supposed 'confession' Riley told him that the women were killed because their relatives had been responsible for the death of a man Scott Thomas.

“Dem programme dem Labourite family fi come kill Scott, so dem move een back on the mother and the daughter,” the witness said he was told by Riley, who, he said, fingered Campbell and another man as being involved in the killings.

“Dem programme the people dem; dat mean dem kill dem. He told me dat when the door kick off, him and (another individual) go in the daughter room. Him say him hold on pon the girl and Adrian dem a deal with the mother,” he told the court.

The witness said he was told that when Lynch was chopped she called out the “personal name” of the individual who chopped her an' said, 'Yuh a go kill mi'?”. He said at this point Riley told him that he had to “move the individual outta the way and shoot her because she bawl out too loud”.

“Mi turn to him and mi say, 'Jah know, dawg, a dat really gwaan?' Mi kiss mi teeth and move from beside him… I didn't want to be around him,” the witness said.

Under questioning from Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Paula Llewellyn the witness said he was not in the area at the time of the murders as he had been working that night.

Asked by the DPP why he had told the police what Riley had shared with him, he said, “I never want to get involved, I wanted to clear my name, so when I hear, I told the police.”

According to the witness, when he had heard about Scott's killing he decided to leave Lauriston.

When asked by the DPP “Did you have anything to do with what happened to Scott or the two women?” he replied, “No, no, no, Ma'am, nothing like that.”

Defence attorney Lloyd McFarlane, who is representing Riley, in cross-examining the witness, was at pains to point out that the witness did “not mention one word about what (he said) Blacks (alias for Riley) told (him)” to the police when he gave his written statement. McFarlane also questioned the witness extensively about whether he had signed to the statement without it being read to him, as is required, after the witness admitted to not being able to read much and told the court that he had given his side of the story while an officer recorded it. The witness said he had given statements to the police on three occasions.

“Do you agree that on the 29th of July 2011, in the statement, you did not tell the police anything about a conversation with Blacks in the holding area of the police station,” McFarlane challenged.

“No, I told the police, I told them what was going on,” the witness insisted. When the statement was read over to him by a court officer McFarlane again asked the witness whether he had in fact told the police what Riley had said, since it was not in that statement, and was only mentioned in one paragraph of another statement.

“Yeah, I told the police what go on,” the witness insisted, adding later, after several more questions, “I never told them that I can't read that good.”

“Why didn't you say so?” McFarlane shot back.

“Him write it down, he give it back to me to read, I just have it and I read some. I never tell him I cannot read, so I give it back over the table. I know what I was telling him was the truth; they were writing when I spoke, so I expect them to write it,” the witness insisted.

When asked whether the police had read the statement over to him before he signed it he said: “I don't remember.”

“I'm suggesting to you that the statement was read over to you before you signed, I'm suggesting you did not tell the police,” McFarlane countered.

“I told the police,” the witness insisted.

Moments later, during the back and forth that ensued, McFarlane said, “I'm suggesting that at no time did you have that conversation with Blacks about the two women who were killed… I'm suggesting that when you told this court that you went over and spoke to Blacks it was a lie.”

“That can't be a lie,” the witness retorted.

“Did you think that it would help you to get released if you gave the statement about Blacks?” McFarlane asked.

“No, I [was] never thinking that,” the witness replied.

He said he was released after about a week in custody and was not charged in relation to the incident.

The trial is expected to resume at 10:00 am today.


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