Perez acquitted for 2nd time

| 26/07/2011

(CNS): Full story – A Grand Court judge took three hours to deliver another not guilty verdict in the case against Jose Perez for the murder of Marty Gareau in Bodden Town in May 2008. Perez was acquitted on Tuesday for the second time following his retrial for the crime, which had lasted more than 6 weeks. Justice Smith noted that the crown's case relied very heavily on the fingerprint evidence. However, for a number of reasons the judge said he could not rely on the evidence of the crown's fingerprint experts as he told Perez he was free to go. The judge said that in future when the crown relies so heavily on fingerprint evidence, the experts should not only visit the scene but make contemporaneous notes that could be used in court.

Perez was charged with the murder of the Canadian national a few weeks after the badly beaten body was found at Gareau’s Beach Bay home over four years ago. Gareau had been killed when his skull was crushed with some kind of blunt weapon during the course of what was clearly a vicious attack. Perez, who is a Honduran national, was charged with the crime when two faint bloody prints were found on the door frame of the garage where Gareau’s body was eventually found.

However, Perez, who always denied the killing, had an alibi for most of the weekend when his friend Gareau was killed. Only a few weeks before, Perez had been to Gareau’s house for a barbeque, when he had spent time in the garage area.

Perez was acquitted during his first judge alone trial as the judge had stated he could not be sure Perez was the murderer, but had suggested in his ruling that the burden of proof was elevated because it was the crime of murder. As a result, the crown appealed the ruling and Perez, who was a free man after his first not guilty verdict for around five months, was re-arrested and was forced to face a second trial.

This time the case lasted across eight weeks, when both the crown and the defence called an array of expert witnesses, who argued over the time of death, footprint evidence and finally the crucial fingerprints. The judge had noted that Perez had called numerous witnesses to support his defence, despite having no burden to prove anything. The judge also said he was not convinced financial difficulties that were being experienced by Perez at the time of the crime was motive enough to turn a man who was describe as kind and of good character into a vicious killer.

The defence’s position was that throughout the investigation that Perez had cooperated and had volunteered his prints and his DNA. The fact that he never attempted to leave the country, even when the crown had appealed the first verdict, was also noted by the judge.

In his ruling the judge raised concerns that the evidence from the prosecution’s two fingerprint witnesses, despite being presented as experts, was not sufficiently reliable for him to find the defendant guilty. Justice Smith said that when the prosecution case relies substantially on fingerprints, the failure to have the prints verified and the lack of contemporaneous notes to explain the experts’ findings “rendered the fingerprint evidence unreliable”.

The judge noted that even if he were to assume that the prints belonged to Perez, he was concerned that neither of the experts were in a position to convince the court that they could say with any certainty when the prints arrived there — before or after or at the same time as the blood. One of the print experts had told the court that was not her area of expertise, and in the case of William McKay the judge said he was not convinced by him.

“I cannot attach any weight to their opinion,” he said. Justice Smith stated that he was not impressed by McKay, who had said that in his opinion the print and the blood were made at the same time.

The judge said he tended to agree with defence counsel that the man had made a mistake with the prints and had attempted to cover it up during his evidence. “I have not been made sure that he has the experience to convince me, and I cannot rely on his evidence. The prints could have been left on the door when the defendant went for dinner.”

The judge said he was not sure and accordingly he told Perez he had found him not guilty as discharged him from custody.

Category: Crime

Comments (38)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I think the governor should do a review of the prosecutors and staff in the Cayman Islands and get this dire situation sorted out.

    To have case after case lost or thrown out makes the legal system seem like a joke.

    The lawmakers can blow all the hot air they so choose about the laws but when cases are not compiled with sufficient professionalism to gain a proper conviction then there is a flaw in the system.

    Only the governor can really sort this out, if not now…when?

  2. Anonymous9 says:

    So Martin Gareau's murderer is out there.  Anna is still missing with her murderer walking free.  And we seem to have forgotten Fredrick Bise' murderer as well. XXXX

     

    Can you imagine that you can still get away with murder these days!

    • Anonymous says:

      Add Courtney Spence name to the above list please. Family and friends are still waiting for answers

  3. Anonymous says:

    When we recently had some real hardcore police officers here (from the UK I believe), they cleaned up the place in something like 6 weeks.  As soon as they left, the crooks were back out and the crime started again. Something smells very fishy here.  Just like the missing gun.  I am sure there are not many officers who carry guns and you mean we can't even keep a track of them?  Then there's the question of the failure to pass exams.  Is there even an entrance exam for the RCIPS?  If not, why the hell not?????   What is the minimum level of education to be a police officer?   I do believe you don't even have to have "O" Levels or equivalent.  Why are our Police not sent to the UK/Canada where-ever for real police training?  Or, why can we not have some real Police Trainers come to Cayman and train those than can read, write, spell and speak English to an "O" level or equivalent standard properly. Those who are illiterate and semi-illiterate have no business being police officers.  Don't care where they are from.  Weed out those who enlisted to avoid being rolled over and send them home IF they are incompetent.  We cannot afford to pay those officers who are not dedicated any more, nor can we afford any more innocent people being shot. The criminals are laughing in the face of the police and from outside, they look to me like they are far smarter than the police because they are certainly getting away with almost everything they do.

    It seems to me that there is so much corruption everywhere that the whole place is falling apart.

    • Anonymous says:

      "When we recently had some real hardcore police officers here (from the UK I believe), they cleaned up the place in something like 6 weeks"

      .

      I love your remarks, your memory is way out.. Yes these officers came for six weeks, they investigated all these cases that have just got off, they were the ones collecting the evidence and following up on the statements, not just the officers on the island… So they have to get some of the blame as well.

      The UK officers were reporting to other UK Senior officers on vacation, they stayed in a nice condo just across from the beach and partied.. These guys didn’t do their jobs. Mark my words you are going to see a lot more NO GIULTY verdicts in the near future, all the Police did was go out and arrest their suspects, yes shooting in WB died down and it doesn’t take 2+2 =4 these guys locked up had something to do with the shooting and murders but if there is no evidence what is the judge or jury to do. I may or may not agree but the court system is the system.

      I hate to predict this for the WB community but the shooting are going to start again soon, in fact I read today over the last couple days there have been reports of gun shots, I don’t recall that much happening in WB over the last several months…. Funny this hey…. 

      So now the islands is going to have to deal with all these robberies and now the gang war far is going to start again, just watch.

      Bring back Haines, Brady, Brown, Simms and other older officers, these guys are respected and got the job done back in the day, it is time to get rid of Mr. Baines and his senior UK officers.. They also need to get rid of the guy that just brought these new cars, what a waste of funds, officers don’t even have bullet proof vests or any real form of protection.

      Oh and by the way I’m from the UK

  4. my comment says:

    I agree with the statement about the police but to get good officers you need to pay good money.

    Truth be told..whilst North American police salaries are stated fairly low they do get plenty of side work as security for events etc.  Being an police officer in the USA is a damn good job i.e almost six firgures as a rookie if you put in the side work and join the union.  My recommendation and I bet the COP would agree is to get ride of all these officers we currently have and start recruitment with a salary range of $65K-$75K but less generous schedules.  The entry test should apply to all officers even foreign recruited officers.  It is only then that we can talk about giving PC guns and actually get real professional committed officers in the force.  

    Until then they will be encouraged to or only able to do the following: 

    1) running side business like Bars

    2) leaving the force as soon as they get status/ residency

    3) Being incompentent or not properly trained

    4) lacking motivating or discpline of professional officers

     

    Which results in criminals not seeing hard time.

     

  5. A foreigner's view says:

    Are the Caymans spineless?  Having read with great interest all the stories about the myriad crimes, both alleged and actual, which have occurred in the Caymans these past months–from armed robberies, shootings, murders and now a criminal investigation regarding your Premier over something he allegedly wrote some years ago–followed by a recent series of articles in CNS about the outcome of several murder trials, a visitor to your country might well conclude that your police force is inept, your prosecutors sub-standard, your governor is less than effective XXX

    Has anyone in Cayman a backbone or is the only spine that which runs through the center of Cayman Brac?  It is time for a thorough moral and ethical housecleaning before the Cayman Islands becomes one more Caribbean backwater port of call noted for its corruption.

     

  6. Dennie Warren Jr. says:

    Re: “second time”

    A second time?  Absolute shame on those who made such a terrible law!!!
     

    • Anonymous says:

      Well Dennie, this is exactly what is has come to.  If you recall, some time ago, the Attorney General was the one who sought wider powers for his office, including being able to prosecute people for the same crime more than once – I mean, if you can't nail someone the first time, try a second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth until you get him/her.  And this is what they call Justice.  Any wonder that almost so many people have a complete disregard for law in the Cayman Islands???

      • Dennie Warren Jr. says:

        Yes I do recall.  No resident or visitor can be safe with such a provision in law.  I call on all MLA's to repeal that provision.

  7. Scrape goat with a R says:

    I was a good thing the Estella Scott Roberts friends turn out and help-secured her crime scene when they did we would have very well end up in this same dire situation. Where evidence and the crime scene is mishandled. i feel it for the RCIPS they have lost so many good officers and some senior officers statements and assertions an attempts to blame ex officers at the recent gun amnesty district meetings have come back to haunt them. Enough said.

  8. Anonymous says:

    The blame lies with the Attorney General and the Director of Public Prosecutions.  Although, it is absolutely true that the RCIPS are completely and utterly incompetent, the AG and DPP have full discretion which cases they wish to pursue.  If a case appears to lack the necessary evidence, it is their responsibility to dispose of that case – it is not their job to try to make a case when there is none to be made.

    • Anonymous says:

      One thing that needs noting: trial by judge alone will very likely end with NOT GUILTY. The same trial by jury will most likely be GUILTY. The criminals do a lot of research to outsmart the system. 

       

      • Anonymous says:

        You couldn't be more wrong…  A judge will in most cases render a very fair decision.  He/She is most likely to be influenced by law, and less likely by matters that play no part in the decision process (e.g., emotions).  In fact the Crown, including the Attorney General, have lobied that certain types of trials be conducted by judges alone.  Why exactly do you think that is?  Because he thinks that trial by judge alone favours the prosecution, that's why.  Lastly, criminals do not do a lot of research – I doubt that most can even read.  They may be a litle bit smarter than the RCIPS but not by a lot…

        • Anonymous says:

          I agree with the rest of your post but I don't think the following is quite correct:

          "In fact the Crown, including the Attorney General, have lobied that certain types of trials be conducted by judges alone.  Why exactly do you think that is?  Because he thinks that trial by judge alone favours the prosecution, that's why".

          The AG has lobbied for judge alone trials in serious criminal cases because the trial is less likely to be compromised e.g. because of jury tampering (threats or bribes to jurors). In the UK  they were called Diplock courts until they were abolished a few years ago. 

          Whether a judge favours the prosecution will probably depend on the nature of the judge's practise as an attrney before coming on to the bench. If he was a defence attorney he might well favour the defence.     

          • Anonymous says:

            Yes, you are correct.  After writing the post I recall that one of the reasons the AG favoured trial by judge alone is because of jury tampering and also because they had a problem getting juries.  Your second point about judges favouring one side over the other depending on the judge's experience as an attorney is also true…  Regards.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I certainly agree with the majority of the posters that the Police are completely incompetent and clueless as to how to do a proper job – starting with the very top to the very last one on the bottom…  Lost a gun lately?  Forgot a bullet at a crime scene in the recent past?  Didn't bother investigating a crime because it was somehow inconvenient or the person involved was connected?  Showed up hours late to a call?  Call them incompetent, call them late or don't call them at all –  because even if they were to show up, the likelyhood of a satisfactory resolution is slim to none…

  10. Anonymous says:

    Another case tossed because the investigators can't and the police don't.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Cayman use to be my home..Trust the Police to protect me? I'm Suprised there are not more Katare schools opening!

    Been on Jury duty and the police disgrace the JUSTICE system with their lack of attention to detail. I've set someone free when I knew he was guilty, however cannot convict without being proved guilty in the court of law.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Well well, this is what happens when you put knuckle heads in charge of important positions that require a bit of grey matter.

    I am concern here with the revelation of what seems to happen more often that anything else.

    There are two scenarios that the RCIP have to choose from as to what is happening.

    1) They are arresting/charging the right people with these crimes, but between the collection of evidence and the presentation of them, something is going cluster %$&K wrong!!!

    Or, 2) they are simply arresting innocent people!!!! and the courts are setting them free, rightfully so.

    In either case, THE CRIMINALS ARE STILL OUT THERE AMONGST US!!!!!!!

    So which one is it RCIP?!!!!

     

    • Anymous says:

      19:32  I totally agree with you, because I would like to know what kind of Numbskull police officers we have in the force.  The police of commissioner should be ashamed, because the policer officers that we have in the force should be picking up our garbage, because they cannot take a good statement, they cannot build a good case, bound all the criminals are getting away.   I dontknow who they are, but the Commissioner need to begin employing police officers who know the law, can read and write properly and especially speak the English language.  Shame on you all.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I don't comment in a critical manner as I have great respect and a love of these islands and it's peoples, but something is drastically wrong and the methods and procedures need to be audited by some other authorative outside body. The answers are not with in the Cayman Islands. It's as if the most valued time honoured traditional institutions are in shambles and collapsing in on itself, not just justice but the very fibre of most good governance practice is breaking down. It's all very sad.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Now I understand why Cayman is deemed "Crime Free". 

  15. Anonymous says:

    It seems as if  murder is a game in these islands.  Why can't the governement hire highly trained, and equiped officers from the US or Canada to work with the RCIPS?  They sure can use the bait to catch their fish.  The RCIPS is always scrambling for the bait and the hook is not even on the line.  What a sad situation we are faced with day after day.  Wake up from the deep sleep RCIPS!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Anon 16:23

      This was suggested to the Government not too long ago.I would hope that by now, they have brought in the  special security unit.

      At  the same time, get rid of the untrained police, they are just a  liability  to the tax payers.

      I have never in my 59 years seen such  an inept police force….and I never resided that long on Cayman, my home. 

      We would be better off, if we were to bring in a Private Security company, preferbly from America or Canada, and i don't mean securitys  like we already have here.

      These mercenaries are trained in warfare, and know how to take out the enemy. 

      Mac, please! or else we are going to lose this Island to hudlums, and criminals, we have no other choice.

  16. YetAgain says:

    Yet tomorrow the RCIPS will be all over the news and media calling for greater cooperation from the community in the effort to solve crimes.

    On almost every level the RCIPS appears to be failing in their job description … why would anyone stick their neck on the lines to help this bunch?!

    The entire leadership of the RCIPS ought to be replaced.

    For goodness sake – they can't even successfully follow procedures to find our dumb-a$$ed, immature and wanna-be Cayman "thugs" guilty of the crimes they have committed. Most of these are "1st generational" criminals … theoretically the easiest to apprehend, charge and convict – but nope .. not our good ol RCIPS.

  17. Durrrr says:

    CNS note to Durrr: I guess we'll know in 2 days time. Thanks for the link.

  18. Caymanian Boat Captain says:

    Ahhhhhhhhh, here we go again !!! These so called experts, who fails to keep contemporaneous notes concerning "cruicial evidence" at the scene of a capital crime. This is the first thing that is taught in police recruit training, the same like your ABC's in kindergarden. Even "Mickey Mouse" would be a better crime scene investigator and leader that these so called "highly trained and expert UK detectives……. including those now in top leadership roles in the RCIPS.     

    I do not blame for one moment the prosecutors from the office of (DPP) Director of Public Prosecutions, for the loss of these cases. The crown can only bring forward into evidence what the police have legally obtained, which seems to be very little these days. I put the blame 100% for lack of convictions in these capital cases, squarely on the Leadership of the RCIPS……. which have not only failed the Cayman Islands but failed miserably in the UK as well. Somehow they were hoping or believing that their shoddy/ineffective policing would work here in the Caribbean. WHAT A BIG MISTAKE !!

    Just you wait and see what's going to happen in our communities within a few months time, if it really does last that long !!!

    I have one bit of advice for Baines and his "Mickey Mouse Leadership" team. Please make a special order soon……. to now "double or triple" your supplies of crime scene tape; trust me, you're going to truly need it !!  

    • Anonymous says:

      I hear your point dude, and completely agree with your assessment of the English/Jamaican individuals that make up the leadership' of the RCIP, but i would respectfully say that you are a little skewed in your position I think. The job of the prosecutors is to evaluate evidence, and the suitability of cases, sent by the police, to go to court, and it's probability of being successfully prosecuted. They can, and should, easily 'bounce' files back to the police for further work/evidence/interviews etc. That is why they are paid so much money, so much more than cops. That is their job, to successfully prosecute cases. They make all the decisions as to whether to charge or not (except DUI) so why shouldn't they be responsible for those decisions, and responsible when the consequences of those decisions are 'not guilty' verdicts?

      I admire your passion, but much as it pains me to say it, this aspect of the facrs that is the 'justice' system in Cayman cannot be laid SOLELY at baines' feet.

      • Anonymous says:

        The chickens are truly coming home to roost in Cayman….I know because I used to live there during the time when the eggs were being hatched.

        Back in the day, the RCIPS was so focused on doing the bidding of high officials and politicians, that they couldn't become a proper, professional police force….

        And Cayman's population and pool of judges was much smaller than it is today….

        People were convicted by judges and juries with shody police evidence and weak prosecution cases because, 'more than likely' they were guilty; in some cases they did convict the right person, but not on sound evidence or legal principles.

        Times have changed drastically but the RCIPS and legal system hasn't caught on to this; they are still operating in this 'cocoon' of privilege and lack of accountability when their professionalism is found wanting and that is every day and case now, by the way.

        This is exactly why so many accused are choosing to be tried by judge alone; Caymanian juries can be swayed by public opinion and emotional issues easier because of the small size of the community.

        When the office of Director of Public Prosecutions was created, i thought that it would work in the same way the Crown Prosecution Service works in England; to vet and examine evidence as to whether the prosecution has a strong enough case to win a conviction or not, obviously this is not the case.

        It looks like all that has happened is that the former solicitor general has been given an exalted title, director of public prosecutions and probably more money as well…

        And our dear lady is losing morecapital cases before the judges than she ever had before !

        The recent score is now 3 for the defense teams of accused murderers   0 for the Director of Public Prosecutions and the RCIPS.

        As some one has already posted, if this situation does not improve soon, the RCIPS had better stock up on their supplies of crime scene tape….

        They're certainly going to need it !

        • Anonymous says:

          A  few years back, an attempt was made to have ALL governent lawyers-legal drafters, crown counsels, magistrates, judges, law school lecturers subject to a performance appraisal system. From the top down, they went totally and wildly apeshit saying such a system was "totally unnecessary and inappropriate for lawyers". So let's not complain about these exalted people and their – er – performance since no-one was prepared to hold them to account.

      • Ex-Prosecutor says:

        I agree ENTIRELY. The Legal Department needs a COMPLETE audit and personnel change. There is something deeply wrong in that department. They continue to prosecute cases inappropriately. Also, question for the DPP and Att General: WHERE is your Code for Prosecutors?? This should be a publicly available document which makes transparent the basis upon which you commence prosecutions (i.e. each case MUST pass the (1) evidential test and (2) public interest test before a prosecution is commenced)

    • Anonymous says:

      well at least the investigator showed up at that scene…I've been waiting for 9 weeks for a fingerprint guy to dust my bedroom door and they still are giving excuses why they can't make it!

  19. visitor_from_nj says:

    Is there ever a GUILTY sentence?? I am appalled at all the NOT GUILTY's being handed out.  TIme for Cayman to get better investigators/prosecutors/judges, whatever it takes.  Clearly all these people can't be not guilty.  SMH!

    • Incognito says:

       

      Im confused.. Are you saying that they must change the legal system too because there wasnt a conviction? Are you crazy or just plain ignorant? They didnt have enough evidence! plain and simple. Do you want them to give a man life for questionable evidence?

      Its the job of the police to get evidence. The court makes an impartial decision if the defendant is guilty by the evidence that is presented.

      What boondock are you from?

       

  20. Anonymous says:

    Yet another waste of time because of:  1.  poor and possibly incomplete police work   2.  the Crown wanting to convict a person for MURDER on little or no evidence  Even though we all want justice, one cannot "hang" a person because of fingerprint evidence alone…  How would you like to visit a friend one weekend and be charged for his/her murder the next because you smeared your greasy BBQ fingers on his/her walls and he/she just happened to get murdered by some a$%hole?  The Crown better provide more proof than fingerprints  (e.g., motive; weapon; time-line; witnesses etc…) otherwise stop trying to "hang" people without enoughevidence.

  21. Anonymous says:

    How many more bites of the apple (at the expense of the public purse I might add)are the Crown going to be allowed in this and other cases?  Get your act together and prosecute correctly the first time around rather than wasting so much of our money please?

  22. Target says:

    Oh Boy! Legal looses another one.Will they appeal again? When will someone F'ingwell realise that the prosecutors spend too much time ordering business suits from 'cheap business clothes.com' and not enough time preparing, studying, and checking that cases even deserve to get to court in the first place?

    Why are these 'experts'  not made accountable for pXXX poor performance?