Attorney attacks phone recording evidence
One of the four attorneys representing Everton “Beachy Stout” McDonald, who is on trial for the murder of his second wife, on Monday sought to discredit evidence given by a detective sergeant regarding a cellular phone which was allegedly used to record more than 120 conversations between McDonald and another man already convicted and sentenced for the killing.
The other man who is said to be talking to McDonald on the tapes is Denvalyn “Bubbla” Minott who is currently serving a 19-year-and-10-month prison sentence for his role as the contractor in the July 20, 2020 murder of Tonia McDonald.
Minott had confessed and agreed to turn prosecution witness against McDonald. His claim is that he was hired by McDonald for the sum of $3 million to kill Tonia. He also claimed that he subcontracted the hit on Tonia to Oscar Barnes, who is also being tried alongside McDonald.
Previously, during his testimony in the trial, Minott told the seven-member jury and presiding judge, Chester Stamp, that after Tonia’s murder he had difficulties getting the $3 million that, he said, was promised to him and claimed that Barnes was pressuring him for the money. He claimed, too, that not having any luck, he secretly recorded the phone conversations between himself and McDonald and saved the files under the name Vybz Kartel so if anyone found it, they would assume it was music.
In the Home Circuit Court in Kingston on Monday, the lead investigator in the case, a detective sergeant assigned to the Major Investigations Division of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, faced intense grilling from defence attorney John Jacobs during a cross-examination. Jacobs suggested to the detective that the phone with the recordings came into being after the trial started, because it never existed before.
Jacobs asked the detective to confirm if he had submitted three statements in the case and that one of them included details about the cellular cops took from Minott in August 2020.
“Two of the statements were prepared before the trial started. The other one was prepared since the trial started. In the two statements before I made no mention of a Samsung A31 cellular phone or an SD card. I used my notebook to assist me with the first two statements and the third. To leave out the information about the phone was intentionally done,” the policeman said.
“The information was important to the case. All information is important, Sir, but if we are to put in all information, we would never finish that statement,” the detective sergeant said.
Jacobs told the policeman that the phone did not exist before the trial and tried to ascertain from the cop whether the investigation of the phone began when the trial started.
“That is not true, Sir,” the policeman responded. “The investigation of the phone had started. I collected the compact disc from CFCD [Communication Forensic and Cyber Crime Division] after the trial started.”
The attorney quizzed the policeman about the description he had given of the phone and pressed him on whether three other people at his office had access to the device or even used it.
Jacobs also asked the cop if he had told Minott what to say in his testimony in court and pressed to know whether he had assisted Minott to the court to give his evidence.
“Last week you described the phone as being a black and blue phone, a detective constable gave evidence and described the phone as a blue phone,” Jacobs said.
The detective sergeant responded saying, “The back of the phone is blue and the screen is black. All phones, once left idle, it is black. In my statement I described the phone as blue before Mr Minott gave evidence. I am not trying to merge the colour evidence already given about this phone. I do not agree that other officers interacted with the phone. The detective corporal did not use the phone.”
Jacobs asked the cop whether there was a particular policeman who interacted with the phone who was not called as a witness in the case and whether the three cops who gave statements about the phone did so after the trial started.
The detective sergeant confirmed that the statements about the phone were given after the trial started.
“I did not tell them what to write in their statements. I briefed them as it relates to chain of custody, as it relates to CFCD,” he said.
However, Jacobs insisted that the statements about the phone only came after the trial started because there was no such phone before the trial started.
“That is not true, Sir. The phone existed,” the detective sergeant responded.
The trial continues today, after which it will break until January 9.