September 8, 2017 saw one New Nursery resident perched atop a table in her house at 3:30 am from where she witnessed the fury of alleged members of the St Catherine-based Klansman gang being unleashed on her relative who was killed in a hail of bullets and his home then set ablaze by the gangsters whose arrival was heralded by barking dogs and exit marked by volleys of gunfire.
The victims were 26-year-old Jermaine Bryan and his partner, 25-year-old bartender Cedella Walder, whose killing prosecutors say was “demonstrative of the gruesome manner in which this gang operated”.
On Wednesday the garrulous woman, who was one of several witnesses to take the stand yesterday as the trial of 33 alleged members of that gang continues at the Supreme Court in downtown Kingston, said she took her perch on the table after preventing another member of her household from running out to see what was the reason for the racket.
“Mi seh, 'No, yuh can't go outside.' After mi tell him seh him can't go outside because him nuh have no gun, mi jump up on di table and look over the house to see what mi can see in Jermaine yard. Mi si two guy inna di lane fi come dung where mi live,” she said.
Asked how she was able to see those individuals in the darkness she said the gun-toting two had taken up their watchman duties right under a light bulb which residents had hung from a poinciana tree.
“Wi put a bulb and where dem come is exactly under the bulb,” she said dramatically.
She knew one of the men and she also recognised the firearm he held, she revealed to the court, amidst an almost collective gasp.
“Afta mi saw di two guys mi tell mi [relative] dat mi mek out one a dem, Frazzle [former Klansman member now deceased]. Mi know him from him a pickney. He had on a hoodie, but him have a trim; him beard grow into him sideburns. I hadn't seen him in two years but I saw him the Saturday before, downtown, and I come and tell the people dem in the community,” she said.
“Him just 'tan up facing Jermaine yard, two a dem 'tan up wid two gun, dem unda di light an mi a si dem good, good, good,” she said.
Asked what made her certain the men were carrying firearms she declared almost indignantly “because mi know gun, and mi know one of di gun too”.
When presiding judge Chief Justice Bryan Sykes sought to find out the source of her knowledge of guns, she asserted, almost rebukingly, “I know gun, my babyfather is a retired inspector of police.” When the chief justice enquired whether he carried a gun, she said “Yeah, den nuh gun him use, police, corporal, inspector, yeah him have gun, of course,” as if offended. The exchange caused some amusement.
Continuing her arresting testimony the witness said, “Frazzle gun was bigger than the other guy gun. Di gun weh Frazzle have mi know from when Fudgical [alias], a man (now deceased) had that gun walking in the community,” she said, attempting to use her hands to demonstrate the size of that gun.
She told the court that the two men ran off when the gunfire died down, and at that point, she said, she ventured down from her lookout point and ran for her relative's yard trailed by the other occupants of her home.
“When mi heard like dem a leave di yard, mi an' mi [relatives] run out and start shout, 'Fire, fire,' [and] wi run, and we and di police dem buck up inna di lane,” she told the court.
According to the witness, community members had, by that time begun gathering, but were unable to challenge the flames. She said, even though the fire brigade also responded, the board dwelling was too far gone.
The trial resumes this morning at 10:00.
— Alicia Dunkley-Willis