Defence tries to trash damaging testimony against Reggae Girl’s accused killer
The defence team for 23-year-old Rushelle Foster — who is being tried for the 2019 killing of national senior women’s footballer Tarania “Plum Plum” Clarke — on Thursday attempted to trash the testimony of the sole eyewitness who has claimed that when the athlete said, “Yuh stab mi,” after getting the first wound Foster reportedly said, “Mi wi do it again,” and gouged her a second time.
That eyewitness, who was the first to take the stand in the Home Circuit Division of the Supreme Court when the trial began on Monday, told the court that on the evening in question there was an argument between the Reggae Girl and the accused. In that argument, the witness said Foster accused Clarke of deliberately ignoring her calls. The witness said Clarke responded by saying her phone was acting up and that other individuals were also experiencing difficulties contacting her.
The witness said Foster lunged forward and tried to grab the phone from Clarke, who pushed her hand away. She said Foster then brandished a knife and stabbed the footballer in her side.
The court was told that when Clarke gasped, “Yuh stab mi,” Foster reportedly said, “Mi wi do it again,” and stabbed her a second time. The witness then described for the court the frantic efforts to get help for the footballer, who was pronounced dead at hospital.
On Thursday, defence attorney Courtney Rowe, continuing his cross-examination, took the police investigator to task over what he said were suspicious omissions and questioned the cop about his failure to mention that he spoke to the witness “in a shop” where other individuals connected to the case were in earshot.
“Nowhere in your statement did you mention that you spoke [to the sole eyewitness] while in a shop,” Rowe charged.
When the witness replied, “I never mentioned it at all in my statement,” Rowe shot back, “And the reason you never mentioned it in your statement is because it never happened, do you agree or disagree?”
“I disagree,” the lawman replied firmly.
Rowe further grilled the detective mercilessly about the absence of any reference to the account of the eyewitness in his own statement or in his listing of statements in the preliminary report contained in the file which was handed over to the case registry.
The detective, however, maintained that he had mentioned in his statement that he got information from individuals on the scene but “did not specify” what he received from the sole eyewitness to testify for the court.
“You are saying she is your sole eyewitness, but you are saying it is not prudent to mention in your statement that you spoke to her?” Rowe asked theatrically.
“I spoke to several persons on the plaza, but I did not mention anyone specific,” the cop maintained. When Rowe persisted with, “Did you deliberately leave it out, sir?” the sleuth coolly retorted, “No, it was not deliberately done.”
Rowe then proceeded to question the integrity of the statements of the two justices of the peace who gave evidence in the trial this week, accusing the detective who was the scribe of affixing his signature to statements that mirrored each other, describing them as “word for word” and “identical”.
He further contended that the statement written by the cop about the incident, as told to him by Foster, omitted key details she spoke about.
“I am suggesting to you that what you wrote is a condensed version of what she said to you… after she gave you her version you told her you were going to write a summary of all she said,” Rowe charged.
The sleuth, in the meantime, further disagreed with suggestions from the attorney that his client had told him that she and Clarke had been involved in “an intimate relationship”.
“She was asked the question but she didn’t answer it,” the cop insisted. His response was the same given by the three other witnesses who took the stand before him in response to the same question by Rowe. He further dismissed suggestions by the attorney that Foster, in giving her statement, had said she did not realise Clarke had been stabbed until after Clarke lifted her shirt. The cop, however, said Foster had told him that after she realised that Clarke was wounded she immediately threw down her knife.
Asked if Foster had expressed remorse at the beginning of her statement, the investigator replied, “No… at the end she did.”
Clarke, a rising star in the sporting arena, was stabbed and killed during a reported dispute over a cellular phone which Foster has told cops she purchased for the footballer for close to $20,000 at about 8:50 pm on October 31, 2019 at Limelight Plaza in Half-Way-Tree, St Andrew.
The detective constable, in his evidence on Wednesday, 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 Half-Way-Tree Police Station.
He said Foster, upon being addressed by him, said, “Mi nevah mean to stab her, a jus’ mi phone mi did want.”
He told the court that when he showed the young woman the knife he had 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”.
On Thursday, Foster — a study in neatness, clad in a blue and white shirt and blue jeans — sat expressionless throughout the proceedings, at times shaking one leg furiously, one hand loosely across her midsection, or fondling her neatly styled bob hairdo.
The prosecution is expected to close its arguments today when the matter resumes at 10:00 am before Supreme Court judge Justice Leighton Pusey and a seven-member jury.