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Tesha Miller trial bombshell

Witness's claim that extortion money used to pay lawyers angers defence attorney; Judge instructs jury to disregard answer

BY ALPHEA SAUNDERS
Senior staff reporter
saundersa@jamaicaobserver.com

Saturday, November 16, 2019

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Senior attorney Bert Samuels and the prosecution's star witness in the case against Tesha Miller butted heads in the Home Circuit Court downtown Kingston yesterday after the former gangster alleged that extortion money was often used to pay lawyers to defend incarcerated gang members.

Miller is on trial for being an accessory before and after the fact in relation to the June 27, 2008 gunning down of then Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) Chairman Douglas Chambers.

The witness, who is said to be a former member of the feared Spanish Town-based Klansman gang, told the court that extortion money was used to fund the welfare of gangsters who were behind bars, as well as pay the attorneys who defended them.

He made the statement under questioning from the prosecution, which asked him to detail how extortion money was used by the gang.

But Samuels, Miller's attorney, objected, stating that, “The witness's statement is bringing the legal profession into disrepute.”

Justice Georgiana Fraser instructed the jury to disregard the witness's answer.

The witness explained to the court that the organisational structure of the gang comprised a “don”, “area leader”, “ground commander”, and “ground soldier”.

He said ground soldiers kept watch in the community for police or outsiders, while the ground commanders saw to the welfare of those behind bars, to ensure they had financial support.

The witness pinpointed Miller as the “don” in the organisation, and stated that his role was to “support the yute dem economically, and to hold the peace inna the community. To support means to give us money, give us guns, and rent cars for them to drive in”.

According to the witness, as area leader his role was to carry out the duties handed down by Miller, which he claimed included being sent to kill and rob people. He said his duties also involved shootings and collecting extortion money.

Samuels again objected, pointing out that his client was not before the court for killing or robbing people; but that objection was overruled by the presiding judge.

At the same time, the witness said he had never received an order from Miller to kill, shoot, or extort, but said he had no choice but to participate in the diversion that was devised by the gang on the day of Chambers' killing, because had he refused “mi would dead, because it would be a violation to the boss, Tesha Miller”.

The witness, now 29 years old and a convicted killer himself, told the court he joined the gang when he was 13 years old, but had decided to take a stand to end his involvement by taking a guilty plea instead of going to trial.
“You have some times where things come up, you have to take a stand to end all of it. I have to take a stand inna the circumstances 'cause sometimes you fed up with what's going on and it's time to put a stop to everything — the shooting, the robbery, the murder, the extortion,” he said.

According to the witness, his turning point came after 13 of his family members were killed between 2013 and 2015.
On Wednesday, in his opening testimony, the witness told the court that he was present when Miller gave instructions to kill Chambers in Spanish Town, St Catherine. He said the meeting was held the day before Chambers was shot to death at the JUTC depot in Spanish Town.

Accusations are that Miller ordered the killing, for which Andre “Blackman” Bryan, reputed leader of a breakaway of the Klansman gang, was arrested and charged in 2010, but acquitted in 2016. Bryan is now before the courts on other criminal charges.


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