‘Mi nevah mean to stab her’
THE investigator who probed the 2019 murder of national senior women’s footballer Tarania “Plum Plum” Clarke on Wednesday told a Supreme Court judge and jury that 23-year-old Rushelle Foster — who is being tried for the killing — claimed ownership of the murder weapon but said she only had it on her person for ‘protection based on where she lived’ and had not meant to stab and kill her “close friend”.
Clarke, a rising star in the sporting arena, was stabbed and killed during a reported dispute over a cellular phone about 8:50 pm on October 31, 2019 at the Limelight Plaza in in Half-Way-Tree, St Andrew.
The detective constable, taking the stand for the first time during the trial in the Home Circuit Division of the Supreme Court in downtown Kingston, said on the night in question after leaving the murder scene where he collected the bloodied “three star ratchet knife”, he spoke with Foster at the Half-Way-Tree Police Station.
He said Foster, who was clad in a white polka dot top and red skirt, upon being addressed by him said “mi nevah mean to stab her, a juss mi phone mi did want”.
He told the court that when he showed the young woman the knife he retrieved from the scene and asked her if it belonged to her she said, “Yes, it is mine, I have it for my protection”.
According to the cop, she said she had the knife based on where she lived as she “travels late at night on a dirt track road”, so it was “kept in her bag”.
He told the court that he then left the station and travelled to the Kingston Public Hospital where the body of the footballer had been taken and then the Tranquillity Funeral Home in downtown Kingston before returning to the station, where Foster, in seeing him, repeated under caution, “mi nevah mean fi stab her a juss mi phone mi did want”.
The detective constable said the day after the incident, he recorded a statement from the accused in which she spoke of the altercation over the phone which she said she had purchased for the footballer.
In the statement, which was read into the records of the court, after being tendered and accepted as evidence, Foster claimed that Clarke had complained that the phone was “dropping signal” and said she told the footballer to return the phone to her “but she kept saying no” when they met up the evening.
“I kept trying to get the phone from her but because she is more masculine than me, I could not, so there was a pushing altercation. I pulled a knife a carried with me for protection because of the area I have to walk through to get home. She was stabbed,” the statement said.
Foster further said after stabbing her friend she, “threw the knife down, rushed with her outside to the Portmore bus stop screaming for help” but “nobody helped us”.
According to the cop, in her statement Foster said she was by then crying and trying to flag down vehicles to get assistance but in realising that no one was stopping, she laid the injured footballer down on the ground and ran to the Half-Way-Tree Police Station where she begged for help.
She reportedly said when no member of the police force moved to her aid she began running back to the spot only to be collared by a cop who informed her that he received information that she was the suspect in the stabbing. She then said, “I did not intentionally hurt Tarania”.
Earlier on Wednesday another police witness, a deputy superintendent of police who interviewed Foster the day after the murder, said when she saw the accused she was still clad in the outfit from the night before with what appeared to be the blood of the footballer on it.
The deputy superintendent told the court that she escorted Foster to a bathroom at the police station where she allowed her to change into fresh clothing which had been brought by her parents. The skirt and blouse she said were packaged separately and sealed and labelled.
The cop said she again identified herself to Foster, and interviewed her.
She told the court that when she informed Foster of the allegations tears streamed from the eyes of the then 20-year-old. She said in seeing the tears she cautioned her and gave her a minute to collect herself before asking her what took place on the night of the murder.
She said in enquiring of Foster the kind of relationship she had with Clarke, the accused said she was “a close friend” of the deceased from 2016. She said Foster after explaining how the altercation had come to be, when asked how many stabs she had given the deceased replied, “one or two”.
The deputy superintendent of police, under cross-examination by defence attorney Courtney Rowe, insisted that Foster did not cry while giving her caution statement but only did so during their preliminary meeting. She also dismissed a suggestion by the attorney that his client had told her she and Clarke had been involved in”an intimate relationship”.
“She did not tell me that, I asked her that but she did not tell me that,” the witness said.
When Rowe prodded further with “I’m suggesting to you that she did”, the cop said “no, she did not. I asked her because I had concerns but she said to me that she was a close friend”.
The trial resumes this morning at 10:00 am before Supreme Court Judge Justice Leighton Pusey and a seven-member jury.