Witness insists he didn't inform on gang to avoid prison

Witness insists he didn't inform on gang to avoid prison

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

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

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THE main prosecution witness in the ongoing trial of alleged members of the Westmoreland-based King Valley gang yesterday dismissed suggestions from defence attorneys that he had knifed his fellow gang members in order to avoid jail time for his own criminal acts and also in exchange for immunity.

Eight alleged members of that outift — Carlington Godfrey, alias Tommy; Lindell Powell, alias Lazarus; Rannaldo McKennis, otherwise know 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 — are charged in an indictment containing 11 counts and are accused of conspiring to commit murder, rape and robbery with aggravation from as early as 2013.

Yesterday, defence lawyers began cross examination of the star witness who began testifying last Tuesday by live video link from a remote location.

Attorney for Carlington Godfrey, Abina Morris, taking the first thrust at the witness, yesterday suggested to the witness, who on Friday told the court that he had betrayed his gang members when they started killing his family members said: “You didn't turn yourself in because your family members were dying, you turned yourself in to save yourself by telling lies on these men.

“I am suggesting to you that you were the one terrorising the Grange Hill community; you and you alone. I am suggesting to you that when you became wanted and fearful for your life you went in to the police,” Morris said, to which the witness replied, “No, Ma'am… that's a lie.”

Yesterday, in one of seven statements which was placed before the court, the former gangster said the murder of his seven family members and the shooting up of the houses of his female companions were all done by the gang so as to draw him out of hiding so they could kill him.

Defence lawyer Russell Stewart, the attorney for Lindell Powell, during further cross-examination, elicited from the witness that, while he had told the police of his criminal activities ranging from robberies, rapes, lottery scamming, and murders he had not been charged.

“Were you not presented with an opportunity to give evidence in exchange for immunity?” Stewart asked.

“I disagree,” the witness retorted, smiling while staring at the camera.

Said Stewart: “This is no laughing matter, were you not presented with an opportunity to be an informant against Powell in exchange for immunity? I am suggesting to you that what has caused you to give evidence against Mr Lindell Powell and others is a direct result of your being an informant against these individuals.” He further accused the witness of doing so in order to “avoid several years in prison”.

“You are now giving information against Mr Powell and others… you are here to save yourself and I mean to not go to prison,” Russell charged.

“I disagree,” the witness again retorted.

Under further cross-examination from defence attorney Donald Bryan, who is representing Rannaldo McKennis, the witness told the court that he had stopped scamming activities because of his mother.

“My mom pressured me to stop, and so I stopped,” he claimed. When asked if she had also told him to stop running with the gang, he said his mother had only told him to “stop par with McKennis because his mother is not a nice person”.

The informant, in his 36-page statement viewed by the court yesterday, said he had only stopped associating with the gang in 2016 after his family members, including his father, had been murdered allegedly at the hands of his cronies. The killings, he said, were part of the further fall-out from the death of Kevon Smith, known as Tito — the gang's leader — who had been shot and killed in 2016 by the police in Patrick City, St Andrew, followed by the death of the new gang leader “Evil Boss” in 2018.

“I stop par wit dem from dem time deh; I was a member [until] when my auntie was killed and my sister was killed. My cousin Evil Boss was shot on December 31, 2017 and I think he died on January 13, 2018,” the statement read. He said further that there was also “war” going on in King Valley between the members of the gang and a rival criminal outfit called the Sterling gang, so he left King Valley because threats were sent to him through his family members by an individual identified only as “Mutch” and others of his own gang. He said that after Mutch and Evil Boss were killed a hit list with names of 15 individuals, including his, was being circulated.

“I [was] now in fear for my life, because mi know the gang members have illegal guns, and dem not afraid to kill anyone,” the witness said in his statement.

He also named a number of individuals he said were financiers for the gang. He said, while they did not necessarily participate in the activities of the gang when they had “things they needed done” the gang members would do it for them. “Like if somebody 'diss dem' or so the gang would get involved and defend it,” the witness said in his statement.

The trial resumes this morning at 10:00 am.


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