Judge weighs evidence of digital forensics examiner
Klansman Gang Trial

THE testimony of a digital forensics examiner who was brought in to validate the call data from cellular phone recordings made by a former gang member and handed over to investigators probing the Klansman gang will be weighed to see if it added anything to the prosecution's case, trial Judge Bryan Sykes said on Tuesday.

The policeman, who was one of two police "experts" brought in by prosecutors to also show the correlation among the recordings, the dates, and the calls in the conversations which featured incarcerated members and others outside as they plotted crimes involving the accused gang members, had been unable to properly explain aspects of the data to attorneys, oftentimes replying that he was "not sure".

He was also unable to answer questions about whether several numbers listed in the call data were source of incoming or outgoing calls.

"So where we are now is where we thought he was the one who could clearly distinguish incoming from outgoing calls. Our expert here was not greatly able to assist us. The prosecution was trying to use this evidence to make the link with the exhibit to provide supporting evidence for Witness Number One in his recording efforts [to suggest that what was on the transcripts corresponded with the call data records]," Chief Justice Sykes said.

"The expert was to come and put it that where you see 'in' it was an incoming call and where you see 'out' it was an outgoing call, but up to this point the expert who began promisingly became increasingly uncertain about his explanations, so that will have to be taken into consideration of the worth and value of his evidence, whether it adds anything to the prosecution's case. The corporal was not as helpful as the prosecution was hoping he would be," Justice Sykes said.

"Keep in mind that the prosecution also called an expert from Digicel to speak to analysis of the numbers and that expert suggested that some of these calls came from particular locales where some of these individuals were housed, but remember now, there is no affirmative evidence from anyone to say, 'Yes, I am the keeper of the cells and XYZ was in one of these cells,' " the trial judge said further.

According to the Digicel representative, he could not speak to the call data as he did not have the technical knowledge. "In other words, the gentleman was saying that, assuming that what was extracted is correct, he can't say how it got there," the trial judge noted. The first expert police witness to take the stand in respect of the call records analysis had been unable to say if the software used by the witness was downloaded by him as he testified or if it was placed there by the phone's manufacturers.

The chief justice, in pointing out that, that expert had said there were applications that are capable of running in the background when a call came in, said this had "implications for the evidence" of Witness Number One. That expert, however, said he did not see any information about the source of the recording application or the operating system when he did the extraction. He also said he did not see a purchase date or installation date for the application.

The second expert police witness had, in the meantime, pointed to two numbers with the contact name "Teacha", which is a moniker for reputed leader Andre "Blackman" Bryan. The chief justice on Tuesday pointed out that the number also featured in the transcript of conversations, which is exhibit 65 of the evidence in the trial, in which a conversation is heard between Witness Number One and a person believed to be Bryan. He noted further that, aside from Witness Number One, the only other prosecution witness brought to elicit voice identification evidence from the recordings was a retired police investigator who identified the voice of Stephanie Cole-Christie and Jason "Citypuss" Brown.

"At best, it is consistency as distinct from corroboration," Justice Sykes stated.

Witness Number One, a former gang member turned crown witness, had testified that he turned over to the police three phones, two of which were given to him by the cops, with recordings of conversations between himself and members of the gang, including alleged leader Bryan. The witness, who said he started working with the police undercover in 2018 while Bryan was incarcerated, said he downloaded a call recording app to automatically tape multiple cellphone conversations, which were also saved. He forwarded the recordings to police when the memory became full.

The chief justice, who for the past two weeks has been conducting his summation of evidence in the trial, which began in 2021, will continue when the matter resumes this morning at 10:00 at the Supreme Court in downtown Kingston.

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