Witnesses truthful, says SG

| 14/09/2010

(CNS): The solicitor general described the evidence of the crown’s two teenage eye witnesses as “remarkably similar” as she made her closing statement in the Grand Court on Monday. Summing up the prosecution’s case against Brandon Leslie-Ebanks, Patrick McField and Osborne Douglas for the murder of Omar Samuels, Cheryl Richards QC said the differences related to an independence of recollection rather than because they were unreliable or untruthful. She said witnesses can only say what they remember. Richards said the suggestion they were lying was implausible and did not bear scrutiny.

“Why would the witnesses, in all of Cayman, choose these three young men?” Richards asked rhetorically and why, she added, would one of them have chosen her relatives to blame. “It doesn’t make any sense.” Richards said there was no reasonwhy they would choose these three unless they were there. “It is a terrible thought that they would deliberately frame these young men,” the solicitor generalstated.
 
Speaking for one and a half hours this morning as she closed the prosecution’s case against the three men for murder, Richards also dismissed the questions raised by the defence about the possible involvement of Martin Trench in this shooting. She questioned why, if the man who they admitted was their friend was responsible, would they go to the police at all. Instead, she suggested, they would have remained quiet.
 
She dismissed the inconsistencies between the forensic evidence with that given by the eyewitnesses’ evidence, suggesting that the expert witnesses had not pinpointed the actual location of the shooting. Richards also dismissed the inconsistencies between the two eyewitnesses’ statements, pointing to their similarities rather than differences.
 
Richards described Marcus Manderson as a hostile witness who, she said, had failed to recollect any of his statement to the police about Patrick and Omar arguing in Pepper’s nightclub and the events on the night of the murder but chose only to remember something new — that Samuels had really told him the name of his killer. The solicitor general said he had come to the court deliberately to say that for his own reasons.
 
She warned the jury that they had to decide the case with careful unbiased judgment, reaching a true verdict following the evidence.
 
Trevor Burke QC, representing Patrick McField, was the first of the three defence attorneys to sum up on behalf of his client. He noted that the crown had only considered Manderson a hostile witness because his evidence contradicted the crown’s case. Burke said Manderson had been seen with Omar as he lay in the road after being shot and it is very likely his friend would have told him the name of his shooter, but thinking he would not die was probably expecting to take care of the issue himself when he came out of hospital.
 
Burke said if Manderson was lying it was a remarkable coincidence that the name he revealed was the name of the man whose palm print was found at the scene and who was revealed as the boyfriend and friend of the crown’s eyewitnesses, two things that Manderson could not possibly have ever known. Burke also noted that Manderson’s account to the police of seeing a disagreement between Samuels and a man named Patrick, aka Chico, was clearly not Patrick McField, whose street name was well known to be Apache.
 
Burke also pointed the jury towards various admissions (points agreed) made by the attorneys, not least the various statements that indicated that Samuels had been drunk and aggressive that night and had picked arguments with and threatened at least six other people with the gun earlier that night.
 
He pointed to the inconsistencies between the eye witness statements with each other as well as the forensic evidence. He said there was no gunshot residue on McField’s clothes, which he had given to police, and even though the eye witnesses said the gunmen were not wearing gloves, there were no DNA or finger prints from Patrick McField at the scene.
 
He said there was no corroborating evidencethat the defendants were friends or that his client had anything to do with the shooting. “The prosecution has wholly failed to implicate Patrick McField in this murder,” Burke said as he warned the jury not to convict an innocent man because of the surge in violent gun crime on the island.
 
Alastair Malcolm QC, representing Osbourne Douglas, reminded the jury that three separate young men were on trial and they could not be considered as a whole. He said that there was only one eyewitness account about his client, as the second crown witness had not identified him at the police station. He also pointed out that the man who the crown’s witness had said was Douglas was reportedly wearing a mask and uttered only four words in a dark area.
 
He said the eye witness account was wholly uncorroborated and there was not a shred of physical evidence to place his client at the scene. He said all of the other witnesses had testified that the scene was dark and that the area was noisy and that even if the eyewitness was truthful about being at the scene and seeing the shooting, she could very easily be mistaken in the identification as he questioned the credibility of it, given the circumstances.
 
Malcolm also pointed to the inconsistencies in the forensic and eyewitness evidence and warned the jury to be careful of cherry picking the evidence when all of it was so contradictory to the crown’s main witness and the only connection to his client. The attorney reminded the jury that the forensic evidence placed whoever shot Samuels right in front of where the teen witness had claimed she had hidden from the gunmen during the shooting, and not where she had told the court she had seen the shooting start. He said all of the other evidence in this case pointed away from the crown’s main witness
 
“There is no supporting evidence whatsoever that Osbourne Douglas was there,” Malcolm told the jury. “There is no credible evidence to put Osbourne Douglas at the scene or to say he was party to this shooting.”
 
The court adjourned as Malcolm finished his statement until Tuesday morning at 10am when Nicholas Rhodes is expected to close for Brandon Leslie-Ebanks.
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