Klansman verdict expected by end of July
(Graphic: Pixabay)

A verdict in the Klansman Gang trial, the longest- running matter of its kind which began in September last year, should be handed down by the end of July, Chief Justice Bryan Sykes has indicated.

“All things being equal, we should be getting to the end of the evidence by next week, and then we are going to be having a break before the addresses begin so that persons can get their thoughts together and then the summation should begin and end before the end of the legal year,” the chief justice said after the final two unsworn statements from alleged members of the gang at the Supreme Court in downtown Kingston on Thursday.

The evidence to which he refers includes the testimony from witnesses who are being called by the defence team for several of the defendants as well as the custody diaries and admission books from correctional facilities, which were subpoenaed.

On Thursday, the chief justice requested that “the producers of the records be prepared to at the very least say how the records are prepared”.

“We don’t want somebody to come and tell us that I just started working there last month and I really don’t know how the records are prepared. We need somebody who is proficient enough who can speak to how the records are created,” the trial judge instructed.

Adding that it would be good if the creators of the original records be identified, Justice Sykes said in the event that this could not be done, a witness who could speak to the creating and keeping of the records should be brought at best.

“So in respect of the attorneys who were requesting records from various institutions, I gather that the return date is Monday. We will see what Monday brings. We are going to be adjourning until Monday so the records can come and then we will see what we shall see and hear what we shall hear,” the chief justice said.

The landmark trial, which is the largest of its kind in the Caribbean, to date, originally began with 33 accused in the docks of courtrooms one and two of the Supreme Court.

Prosecutors at the end of May, ahead of no-case submissions by the defence, had indicated that they had no case against four of the original 33 accused who had been standing trial, citing insufficient evidence. Those four — Damaine Elliston, Rushane Williams, Rivaldo Hylton, and Owen Ormsby — were ordered were freed by the judge.

The Crown went on to concede a number of counts, following which a fifth defendant, Dwayne “Chemist” Salmon, also walked after a successful no-case submission by his attorney.

The 28 remaining accused are being tried under the Criminal Justice (Suppression of Criminal Organisations) (Amendment) Act, commonly called the anti-gang legislation, with several facing additional charges under the Firearms Act for crimes allegedly committed between 2015 and 2019.

The offences for which they have been indicted, include being part of a criminal organisation, murder, conspiracy to murder, arson and illegal possession of firearm and illegal possession of ammunition. Accused gang boss Andre “Blackman” Bryan is charged with, among other things, being the leader of a criminal organisation.

Others answering to the charges are Bryan’s brother Kevaughn Green (supposedly second in command), Tomrick Taylor, Kalifa Williams, Daniel McKenzie, Michael Whitely, Pete Miller, Dylon McClean, Dwight Hall, Carl Beech, Lamar Simpson, Donavon Richards, Tareek James, Stephanie Christie, Fabian Johnson, Jahzeel Blake, Roel Taylor, Kemar Harrison, Joseph McDermott, Jermaine Robinson, Jason Brown, Andre Golding, Marco Miller, Chevoy Evans, Brian Morris, Andre Smith, Ricardo Thomas, and Ted Prince.

The Crown is alleging that the accused, between 2015 and 2019, carried out a range of murders, conspiracies to murder and extortion and arson throughout St Catherine.

It said the gang’s headquarters at Jones Avenue in Spanish Town was used by gang members for planning their exploits and was also where briefing and debriefing in respect of crimes took place.

The court also heard that this was where transactions such as the sale and purchase of guns to carry out murders were done. Several members of the gang in their roles as “foot soldiers”, the court was told, were responsible for ensuring that murders ordered were executed and that extortion money was collected.

Alicia Dunkley-Willis

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