Gangsters kill couple, burn house on their first date night

THE 'mystery woman' that 26-year-old Jermaine Bryan died “huddled” against was the one he had just months before told a relative was in love with him.

That relative never got the opportunity to meet Cedella Walder, who was the 25-year-old bartender who died alongside him, as on what would be the couple's first night together at Bryan's home in New Nursery, St Catherine, in September of 2017, marauding gunmen — allegedly members of the Klansman Gang — kicked in the gate and door to the wooden dwelling, sprayed them with bullets, and set the structure ablaze.

“Some months before he died, he said to me, somebody love him, and I said to him, 'what about your babymother?; and he said, 'she's okay', but a girl love him,” the relative testified Wednesday during the ongoing trial of 33 alleged members of that gang at the Supreme Court in downtown Kingston. She said she last spoke to the young man the Friday before he was killed.

A relative of Walder told the court Wednesday that she also had what would be the last conversation with the young woman the Friday before she died. According to the witness, she had no idea that Walder, who had a child, was seeing anyone. She said when the young woman failed to return home that night as she normally did, she tried calling her “but the phone go straight to voicemail”.

The distressed relative told the court that she didn't go to the police until the Monday, as she was hoping Walker “would come home” as “she would come home every night”.

When she eventually went it was to tell the police that she had “heard that my [relative] is dead”, she told the court in a voice constricted by pain.

Responding to queries from the prosecutor leading the evidence, the relative, clearly struggling to retain her composure at times, shuddered with the force of her emotions, closing her eyes momentarily at points, at one time bowing her head and clutching at her hands. She gave way to tears when asked if she had looked at her relative's body at the funeral.

“I don't think I could look at it [charred remains]. It [casket] was closed,” she told the court.

The Crown, in opening its case on September 20 last year, said that event, which is reflected in counts seven and eight on the 25-count indictment, were part of the crimes committed between 2015 and 2019 attributable to the gang. The prosecutors, in referring to the evidence to come of the double murder at that time, said the incident was “demonstrative of the gruesome manner in which this gang operated”. This act was said to be carried out by the accused Andre “Blackman” Bryan, alleged leader and co-accused, Fabian Johnson, Dylan Mclean, Brian Morris, Michael Whitely, Tareek James, and Jahzeel Blake.

Earlier Wednesday, when the court was shown close-up photos of what remained of the two citizens, which amounted to little more than skulls and what appeared to be the burnt torsos of the two, Bryan burst into maniacal laughter, bending down and holding his head. One other accused looked towards reporters with raised eyebrows, a smug smile spilling from behind his mask while others chuckled.

A detective corporal, who is also a forensic crime scene investigator, being led through the photographic evidence, showed several spent casings amongst the charred remains of the couple and debris.

The detective corporal, who began giving his evidence on Tuesday, had said investigators were able to discern breasts and the pubic parts of a male in the rubble leading them to conclude that the victims were male and female.

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

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