The Crown vs Lucifer
With alleged top lieutenant in the Klansman Gang Jason Brown o/c Citypuss, o/c Lucifer electing not to testify in his own defence during the ongoing trial of 27 accused members of that outfit, trial Judge Chief Justice Bryan Sykes on Wednesday said the question now remains whether the witnesses brought by the Crown had managed to nail him through voice and visual identification evidence.
Brown, who was the last accused to be pointed out in the trial based on the fact that the two main witnesses said they had never seen him in person, but had spoken to him via telephone, has been behind bars since 2012 serving a life sentence for a murder. All the other counts where he was named by prosecutors have fallen making it so that he remains on one count on the indictment — Count Two — which charges him and all the remaining defendants with membership of a criminal organisation.
In recordings of telephone conversations between the alleged gangsters, played into the records of the court earlier during the trial which began in 2021, a voice supposedly belonging to Brown was heard describing how using his self-assigned moniker “Lucifer”, he extorted residents of St Catherine and drove fear into their hearts. A retired inspector of police was the only witness capable of formally identifying City Puss by both voice and face five months into the trial. He told the court that between 2017/18 he had been getting several reports about extortion voice notes circulating in the Spanish Town area from residents on the streets who were so fearful to make the report at the station. He said after gaining their trust, he would be in their presence when those calls came in and would listen in. The retired police inspector said he later visited Citypuss while he was in custody and charged him during an encounter which he described as, “all hell bruck loose”.
According to Witness Number One, he spoke frequently to Brown on the phone in conversations that would last for hours with those calls at times being merged to speak to other gang members.
The Chief Justice on Wednesday, in assessing transcripts of several conversations which were entered into evidence involving Brown, Witness Number One, and others said a conversation contained in exhibit 66, “is an example of how Witness Number One was able to say Mr Brown was a member of the Organisation”.
Brown in the conversation was heard, among other things, voicing his disgust over how members of the gang had defected from alleged leader Andre “Blackman” Bryan while others were becoming laid back and depending only on the extortion funds coming from the Spanish Town bus park. His remedy was that young recruits should be found and indoctrinated.
The trial judge further pointed to references by Witness Number One that sole female defendant Stephanie Cole Christie was ratting out some members of the gang who had defected to the police in order to “clean up” the place so that when Bryan was released from jail, he would have no trouble in regaining his former hold. He said it remained to be seen whether this was connected to Brown’s indication that it is time for the organisation to be cleaned up.
The Chief Justice said the only remaining question is whether the other evidence in the case is sufficient to say that the Citypuss referred to in the calls “is Mr Jason Brown”, whether the identification of that voice made by Witness Number One was accurate, and whether the visual identification of Brown by the senior cop who was brought to identify Brown in person during the trial was correct.
“The critical question is whether Mr Brown is properly identified according to the applicable legal standards. If what Witness Number One said is true in terms of the times and frequency with which he spoke to Mr Brown, it would satisfy the legal standards of prior knowledge of a voice and clearly if exhibit 66 is what it is said to be, the second aspect of the standards in terms of duration content, then exhibit 66 by any measure would do that. The only other aspect now is reliability in terms of voice identification,” the trial judge said.
In emphasising that Brown had opted not to make an unsworn statement or give sworn evidence in his defence, the chief justice said, “This is almost what you would call a classic burden and standard of proof assessment. There is no affirmative evidence or unsworn statement for Mr Brown so the question really is, in the absence of that, can we say the prosecution has proved the case against Mr Brown beyond a reasonable doubt?”
In noting that the Crown’s case against Brown is wrapped up in Count Two, the chief justice said, “What we have seen so far in exhibit 65 and 66 is actually consistent with Witness Number One’s assertions that Mr Brown and himself had extensive conversations and would speak all sort of things for hours on end. So, all of this so far is consistent with that.”
Without making any definitive pronouncements on that score, the trial judge said, “So, in the assessment then, is the theory advanced by the Crown holding up? And that is to say that the nature of the conversations Brown was having with Witness Number One would not be possible without him being a member of the organisation.”
The matter continues today at 10:00 in the Supreme Court, downtown Kingston.