Teen part of conspiracy in Duran murder, says crown

| 18/05/2011

(CNS): Scientific evidence, such as DNA, as well as telephone records and false statements are the key issues which the crown says will lead to the “irrefutably and irresistible conclusion” that Jordan Manderson is guilty of the murder of Marcus Duran. The crown claims that the teen defendant was part of a conspiracy to rob the Ecuadorian, who sold illegal numbers, as he left a customer’s apartment in West Bay on 11 March 2010. There are no eye-witnesses to the shooting on the balcony at an apartment block in Maliwinas Way, and the crown is presenting a circumstantial case. In her opening statement Director of Public Prosecutions Cheryl Richards QC told the court that Manderson had denied being at the scene of the murder but later admitted his presence and said Damion Ming had shot him (Manderson).

The eighteen-year-old, who was only sixteen at the time of the crime, was shot in the leg on the same night as Duran was murdered and his blood was found at the murder scene, as well as the bullet that is believed to have passed through his leg. At first the defendant told police that Andy Barnes, the father of 5-year-old Jeremiah Barnes who was shot and killed in a West Bay Gas station one month before the Duran killing, had shot him from a car as he (Manderson) walked along Birch Tree Hill. However, he later admitted that he was at the murder scene, and that was where he was shot by Ming (who was also shot and killed two weeks later) but that Barnes was also at the scene.

Setting out the crown’s theory behind the murder, Richards told Justice Charles Quin, the presiding judge who will hear the case alone, that they believed the accused had been shot during the struggle with Duran when the robbery went wrong. Duran, however, was at some point shot in the head and his body discovered by the customer he had visited only minutes before, right outside her apartment door.

The crown states that, along with the bullet and blood left at the apartment, a hat which contained the DNA of both the deceased and the defendant was found at the murder scene and that the clothes of the accused were found very close by.

The crown says that telephone records will show that the crime was plotted with Razial Jeffers, who was believed to be near the murder scene at the time and, although also charged with the killing, will not stand trial until a later date. The crown has also charged Craig Johnson with accessory to murder as they believe he was also part of the robbery conspiracy and that he had picked up Manderson from the scene after the shooting.

During the first day of the trial the crown called two witnesses, the first was the woman who discovered Duran’s body and who, it was revealed, was also arrested by the police in the wake of the killing as a suspect in the conspiracy.

The witness said that she knew Jeffers as he was the father of her grand-niece, for whom she frequently babysat. However, she had categorically denied any involvement in the crime, though she said she believed the police still considered her a suspect. She added that although she had been told she had to give evidence for the prosecution, she was expected to appear to answer polcie bail next month in connection with the conspiracy to rob Duran. (Authorities confirmed on Wednesday however that she was no longer under investigaiotn)

Speaking about the night in question, she told the court that Duran, whom she had known for several years, had visited her house to collect money in connection with the local illegal gambling, known as ‘numbers’. The deceased had been at her apartment for only around ten minutes, she said, and that they had spoken about her having no luck in the game. After she paid Duran he left and she returned to watching TV, ironically, as it turned out, an episode of Law and Order.

She told the court that she was hard of hearing and it was a windy night. The witness said she had the TV on quite loud but she suddenly heard a thump against her apartment door several minutes after Duran had left and realised something was wrong. It was then that she discovered Duran’s body lying in front of her door having been shot in the head. She told the court that she had immediately dialled 911.

Before they arrived, however, the second witness in the crown’s case had also arrived at the scene. An ex member of the US military, this witness, who took to the witness box in the afternoon, told the court how he had heard two gun shots, which he believed were of different calibres as a result of the sounds, while in his house close to the apartment.

As he heard the first, he said, he grabbed his phone to begin dialing 911 as he knew immediately it was a firearm; the second shot rang out a few seconds later. He said he then heard a woman screaming and as he came outside he saw a fleeting glimpse of a figure disappear behind the apartment building. He said he recognised the shouts and cries of the woman and headed towards her apartment. As he walked up the stairs he saw the body of Duran lying on the balcony. The witness said it was very clear that he had been shot in the head and was dead.

The witness told the court that when the paramedics arrived, several of them, as well as the police, ran up the stairs to attend to the man. He said they immediately flippedthe body over and put him on a gurney and took him into the ambulance. The witness said he wassurprised they had moved the body so quickly before taking pictures and examining the crime scene but he said the emergency personnel said they had detected signs of life  and so had to try and save him.

The case continues in Grand Court one at 10:30am Wednesday.

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