Shoddy police work hampers Crown's caseTuesday, November 23, 2021
BY ALICIA DUNKLEY-WILLIS
The Crown's case against four of the accused for a 2018 murder on Jones Avenue in St Catherine, in the ongoing Klansman gang trial, yesterday hit a snag after it was disclosed that, except for a scene of crime photograph and the evidence of the prosecution's witness, there was nothing else available from the police in respect of that particular crime.
The two prosecution witnesses, who have so far testified in the trial of the 33 accused members of the criminal outfit, which began on September 20, have given evidence relating to the murder — which is count 15 on the indictment. Accused gang leader Andre “Blackman” Bryan, Jahzeel Blake, Michael Whitely, and Brian Morris are each charged with facilitating the commission of an applicable offence by a criminal organisation in respect of the murder of an unnamed “Rastaman”.
According to the prosecution witnesses, who are both former gang members-turned-informants, the killing of the “Rastaman”, who has not been named, was one of several ordered by Bryan.
Bryan reportedly told his henchmen: “Mi want (unnuh) to go kill di Rasta inna di lane,” but he did not offered any explanation as to why the man was to die. The court was told that Bryan had instructed that a white Honda motor car be rented for that operation and further directed two of the accused now on trial which guns to use and how the act was to be carried out.
Witness Number Two, who was first to take the stand, had said he had been the driver for the men who carried out the act, but he had not been at the scene when the killing took place, but had heard the accused discussing it afterwards.
Witness Number One, however, said he not only saw when the alleged trigger men left the scene, but that he also heard the warning being given to one of them about a defect one of the murder weapons had. He further said he saw when the shooters approached and shot the target, who fell, and also saw the men run towards the Shelter Rock area as they had been instructed to do.
But yesterday when the Crown attempted to place the photograph of the individual into the court's records as an exhibit, it was prevented from doing so on the basis that the witness's assertion that he had seen the incident and had identified the dead man for investigators from a photograph line-up was insufficient.
“So, no police witness will be coming to speak to the death of the Rastaman? No investigator, no police officers who went to the scene will be coming to say I went to the scene and I saw? So, other than the witness's assertion in respect of this Rastaman there is nothing else to support his claim that this gentleman was killed in the circumstance outlined by him? Not even an investigator or police officer to say I was called to the scene and I went to the scene and I saw,” trial judge Chief Justice Bryan Sykes queried.
“Herein lies the problem, that there is not sufficient evidence at this point to demonstrate that the witness is able to properly identify him from the photographs, so I can't go with you on that,” Sykes ruled.
A prosecutor, in response to questions posed by Sykes, said no police witness would be coming to speak to the death of the Rastaman. According to the prosecutor, while the presence of the photograph — which is a crime scene photograph — indicated that the police would have gone to the scene and processed it, the Crown had “nothing to support it”.
The chief justice's ruling was met with gleeful chuckles from some of the accused seated in the dock.
In the meantime, the prosecution's attempt yesterday to also have Witness One establish the identity of the scene at which two individuals were allegedly murdered by members of the gang who were in search of a rival gangster, in a community called Fisheries in St Catherine, also fell flat. The witness, when shown the photograph which the Crown would have entered as Exhibit Three, in looking at the photo — which he had also identified for investigators from before the trial — told the court, “It looks like the spot” while complaining about the quality of the picture.
Asked by the prosecution if the witness's attempt had passed muster, the chief justice said, “Exhibit three? when the man can hardly recognise the place, the man is saying it looks like, there is no defined statement from him. This is the end of the line as far as this witness is concerned.”
Prosecutors yesterday indicated that a police witness who is among the line-up of the 42 witnesses for the Crown will be taking the stand in respect of that bit of evidence.
In the meantime, the Crown was able to successfully enter into evidence the photograph of a man known as “Doolie”, who was identified by Witness One as an alleged victim of the gang who was murdered at the area known as Price Rite in St Andrew in 2017 outside the supermarket where he worked.
Doolie, who the court heard was killed after three attempts, was marked for death by Bryan because he was said to be a member of the rival Tesha Miller faction of the Klansman gang, and was also said to be related to two members of that outfit.
The trial resumes this morning with a new witness expected to take the stand.