Prosecution relying heavily on testimonies of two Klansman gangstersTuesday, September 21, 2021
BY ALICIA DUNKLEY-WILLIS
The prosecution will be relying heavily on the testimonies of two self-confessed members of the St Catherine-based Klansman gang to make its case against the 33 accused gangsters whose trial got under way yesterday in the Home Circuit Division of the Supreme Court in downtown Kingston.
According to the Crown, the two witnesses will be testifying from an undisclosed location, out of fear for their lives and that of their family members.
That, prosecutors say, is testament to the fearsome nature of the gang.
Chief Justice Bryan Sykes is hearing the case of the 33 charged with several offences, including being part of a criminal organisation, murder, conspiracy to murder, arson, and illegal possession of firearm and illegal possession of ammunition. Accused gang leader Andre Bryan, also called Blackman and Teacha, is charged with, among other things, being the leader of a criminal organisation — Klansman/One Don gang.
The Crown, in outlining its case on day one of the proceedings yesterday, said it was its intention to rely on the evidence of 43 witnesses in its bid to prove its case, but said primary evidence will be adduced from the two witnesses who will give their evidence from a remote location.
According to the prosecutor, whose name the media cannot divulge, prior to the commencement of the trial, the two main witnesses opted to give their evidence under disguise.
“The fact is, we live in a society where it is still held true that 'informa fi dead' and, out of fear of their lives and that of their families, the witnesses have opted to take that route — a route which is permissible,” the prosecutor said.
“It must be noted that these two witnesses are self-confessed members of the alleged Klansman/One Don gang and hence they are witnesses with an interest to serve and accomplices to the accused persons. Though these two accomplices cannot serve as corroborative witnesses to each other, there is merit to be found in the fact that they both give accounts of similar incidents that they have witnessed being carried out by the gang,” the court was told.
According to the prosecution, the accounts are not mere coincidence but “lend proof that there is in fact truth in the Crown's allegations”.
“It will be borne out that these two witnesses have intricate details of how these two offences were committed and can speak with personal knowledge of the perpetrators of this offence,” the court was told.
Within the chronology of the gang's activities that prosecutors say the two witnesses will give are key happenings spanning 2015 to 2019 such as the murder of an individual referred to as “Outlaw”, which was allegedly planned by Bryan, who allegedly gave the order. Two of the accused — Owen Ormsby and Carl Beech — are alleged to have carried out the act of gunning down Outlaw on November 2, 2017.
The Crown said evidence will also be given of the double murder of St Catherine residents Jermaine Bryan and Cedella Walder, who, in 2017, were shot while in their homes and then burt beyond recognition.
According to the Crown, the incident was “demonstrative of the gruesome manner in which this gang operated”. This act was said to be carried out by Bryan and the accused Fabian Johnson, Dylon McLean, Brian Morris, Michael Whitely, Tareek James, and Jahzeel Blake.
Prosecutors further said they were “expectant that there will be reliable and acceptable evidence to substantiate each count on the indictment”, adding that there might also be accounts that the prosecution has not indicted which form part of the narrative of the witnesses.
“I entreat the court to accept that although those accounts do not rise to the standard of an individual count on the indictment, they form part of the wealth of material that goes into proving that the 33 were part of a criminal organisation. It goes to prove that they were an alliance that planned, organised and participated in a plethora of continuous criminal activities under that organisation,” the prosecutor said.
In the meantime, the Crown said it will also be relying on ballistic, digital forensic, and biological evidence to help prove its case.
The evidence in the case will be unveiled today when the trial resumes at 10:00 am.
The case, which comprises the largest number of accused ever to be tried together in a single matter, is being handled by 40 attorneys.
The accused are being tried under the Criminal Justice (Suppression of Criminal Organisations) (Amendment) Act, commonly called the anti-gang legislation.
Those answering to the charges are Andre Bryan (alleged leader), Kevaughn Green (supposedly second in command), Tomrick Taylor, Damaine Elliston, Kalifa Williams, Daniel McKenzie, Michael Whitely, Pete Miller, Dylon McLean, Dwight Hall, Carl Beech, Lamar Simpson, Donavon Richards, Tareek James, Stephanie Christie, Fabian Johnson, Jahzeel Blake, Roel Taylor, Rushane Williams, Kemar Harrison, Joseph McDermott, Jermaine Robinson, Rivaldo Hylton, Jason Brown, Andre Golding, Marco Miller, Chevoy Evans, Brian Morris, Andre Smith, Dwayne Salmon, Ricardo Thomas, Ted Prince, and Owen Ormsby.
Yesterday all 33 accused, who are being tried under an indictment containing 25 counts, when arraigned, pleaded “not guilty” to the charges against them.