Focus on lighting at double murder, arson scene in ‘Clans’ case Loop Jamaica

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Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

Chief Justice Bryan Sykes is questioning aspects of the visual identification evidence that was presented by prosecutors in relation to the murder of a couple in an informal community called ‘Fisheries’ or ‘New Nursery’ in Spanish Town, St Catherine in 2017, allegedly by members of the One Don faction of the Clansman gang.

Sykes raised the issue on Monday during week two of his summation of the keenly watched gang trial in the Home Circuit Court in downtown Kingston.

Some key defendants, including alleged gang leader, Andre ‘Blackman’ Bryan, suspected top-tier member and St Thomas pastor, Stephanie ‘Mumma’ Christie; murder convict Jason ‘City Puss’ Brown; and ex-soldier Jermaine Robinson, are among the 27 defendants who remain on trial.

On Monday, Sykes examined the visual identification of the defendants, particularly that of counts seven and eight on the indictment relative to the murders of Jermaine Robinson and his girlfriend, Cedella Walder, who were shot and killed in September 2017.

Their house, located in the informal community called ‘Fisheries’ or ‘New Nursery’, was subsequently set on fire by the alleged gangsters while their bodies were still inside the structure.

Bryan is jointly charged on those two counts with defendants Fabian Johnson, Dylon McLean, Brian Morris, Michael Whitely, Tareek James and Jahzeel Blake.

Other gangsters allegedly went to the location, but were not charged relative to the incident, while others charged were freed of the respective charges earlier in the trial.

Bryan had allegedly rounded up several gangsters to kill a man known as ‘Bobo Sparks’, who a witness claimed was a top shooter for a rival gang.

In his summation, Sykes highlighted that neither of the two prosecution witnesses gave evidence relative to the state of lighting at the scene.

According to law, a judge must examine the circumstances in which identification of each witness can be made.

The circumstances include the length of time the accused was observed by the witness, the distance the witness was from the accused, and the state of lighting at a particular location.

Sykes assessed the evidence of one of the witnesses, a former gangster who said he was the banker and Bryan’s driver.

The judge said the witness made no mention of the lighting, or whether anything was impeding his vision at the time of the incident.

The chief jurist said this must be taken into account when arriving at a verdict relative to those counts on the indictment.

According to Sykes, the narrative the ex-gangster led was that he knew the defendants by voice.

The witness only spoke to the state of light before the incident, the judge suggested.

Continuing, he said a civilian witness was the only one who mentioned lighting close to the murder scene under a tree, which caused her to see two men.

However, Sykes reminded that those men are not on trial.

He said no evidence was presented to suggest that light was in the yard where the crime occurred.

At that stage, the prosecution interjected and pointed out that lightbulbs were seen in images taken in the vicinity.

But Sykes explained that those images were taken after the incident occurred, and there was no indication if or when the bulbs were on.

Turning to the identification parades, the judge outlined that Bryan had refused to participate in that process.

The officers then used alternative methods, by obtaining a passport size picture of Bryan, and used it for the purposes of identification.

Sykes indicated that there is nothing to suggest any irregularities with that identification process.

He said the police acted sensibly, and the identification parade was fairly conducted.

Bryan was positively identified by the witness, while the other defendants were pointed out in other parades and inside the courtroom.

During the trial last year, an audio recording that was played in court highlighted a conversation between an alleged gangster called ‘Check’ and a former gangster-turned-crown-witness.

That particular witness said he was a former don.

The conversation was centred on the same 2017 murder of the couple, and the subsequent arson in ‘New Nursery’ or ‘Fisheries’.

“Wi just guh over deh guh blaze up ova deh. A just 12 a wi guh ova deh dawg,” Check told his then crony.

“A how much. A two people? A man and a woman?” quizzed the now witness.

“Yeah, a man and woman,” replied Check.

After the recording concluded, the witness explained that he and the gangster were discussing the murder of the couple. He said Check said 12 members of the gang went to the community to carry out the gun attack.

The accused are being tried under the Criminal Justice (Suppression of Criminal Organisations Act), 2014, better known as the anti-gang legislation, on an indictment containing several counts, including murder and arson.

The offences were allegedly committed between January 1, 2015 and June 30, 2019, mainly in St Catherine, with at least one murder being committed in St Andrew.