Jeffers waits on judge

| 02/02/2012

raziel (226x300).jpg(CNS): The future of 28-year-old Raziel Jeffers is now in the hands of Justice Charles Quin after the trial for the murder of Marcus Ebanks drew to a close yesterday. The defence team presented their closing argument to the court on Wednesday morning, stating that the crown’s key witnesses in the case were discredited, leaving the judge with “a number of troubling questions” that could only be resolved in favour of the defendant. As he summed up the position of his client, who denies being at the scene of the shooting in Bonaventure Lane in July 2010, Peter Champagnie said the evidence presented by the crown raised serious doubt which should lead the court to find Jeffers not guilty on all counts.

During his closing speech, however, Andrew Radcliffe, QC for the crown, said that Jeffers had the means, motive and opportunity to “carry out the cowardly and incompetent act” and was one of the two masked gunmen that opened fire indiscriminately on the young men congregated in the yard on the fateful night.

He said that the evidence of Adryan Powell, the teenager who was injured in the shooting and now confined to a wheelchair, alone was enough to convict the West Bay man but he said that was bolstered by the evidence of Megan Martinez, Jeffers’ girlfriend who had revealed a damning confession made to her by the defendant.

Radcliffe claimed that in turn her evidence was bolstered by the telephone records that tracked Jeffers on the night in question, and standing alone was the gunshot residue (GSR) found on cigarette papers in the suspect’s pocket at the time of his arrest early the next morning.

The crown also put forward evidence of a motive relating to a personal feud between Jose Sanchez, who it claims was Jeffers' intended target that night but who had escaped unscathed. In addition, it pointed to evidence of the factional animosity between the two men who were on opposing sides of the so-called war between the Birth Tree Hilland Logwoods gangs.

Radcliffe emphasised that Powell’s certain identification of Jeffers when the mask slipped from his face after he had opened fire in the yard was much more than fleeting. He said the lighting wassufficient, it lasted some four seconds. Powell knew and recognized the defendant and, as was the evidence of even the defence witnesses, the teenager was awake and alert, despite receiving multiple gunshot wounds. Above all, the lawyer said, there was no reason at all for him to lie leaving the real culprit at large.

Radliffe said that the delay in Powell’s identification of Jeffers by only a week was understandable given the circumstances: the teenager was heavily medicated during the first statements and, more importantly, he was afraid. When he discovered his own fate as a result of the traumatic event and that his friend Marcus was dead, it was understandable that in his own words he “didn’t care anymore” and came forward.

The QC emphasised the evidence of Martinez, who, while he admitted was a truculent witness that had originally lied to the police, had endured a violent relationship with the defendant. He said she was dependent on him and his family as a young teenage mother. Radcliffe said it was not until she felt that Jeffers was no longer a threat to her that she could come forward. He said there was no evidence to show that Martinez had falsely advanced the confession and that she “would have to have a powerful motive for lying”, adding that her account was also supported by the telephone evidence.

Speaking for Jeffers, however, Champagnie entirely disagreed stating that Martinez’ motive for lying was malice.

When she went to the police, Jeffers had evicted her from the apartment they had shared and taken up with another woman. He said that “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” as he pointed to the inconsistencies and lies she had told in statements and in court. He also noted that when he had put suggestions to her that she was lying about the confession, she had agreed,despite the claims by the crown that it was the way the questions were asked that had led to confusion.

Champagnie said that Martinez was also an erratic and irrational witness, demonstrated by her behaviour in the court, and was thoroughly discredited.

The visiting Jamaican defence attorney dismissed the GSR evidence as a result of the high risk of transfer contamination. He said the phone records proved nothing as they couldn’t pinpoint his client to any location, even if the crown had been able to demonstrate that the phone was in his client’s possession for the time in question.

He also dismissed the motive as he said even Sanchez had denied any animosity between himself and the defendant.

Focusing on the evidence given by Powell, the crown’s key witness, he also claimed this was both poor and discredited. The lawyer said the teenager had lied about when he met Jeffers. He also stated that the circumstances surrounding when Powell had supposedly seen the gunman without a mask were challenging, presenting him with nothing more than a fleeting glance. Above all, his decision to wait a week to point the finger at the defendant raised serious doubt about its veracity.

Champagnie pointed to evidence that the boys were all drinking Hennessey, Heineken and smoking ganja just before the shooting, which would have impaired the teenager’s ability to identify his assailants as he lay wounded on the ground, shot multiple times including once in the face.

Given the discredited witnesses, the defence attorney said there must be serious doubt about his client’s guilt that would lead to a not guilty verdict.

Justice Quin said that with more than 50 prosecution and four defence witnesses, there was a considerable amount of evidence for him to consider and he would need some time but would deliver his verdict as soon as possible.

Jeffers is facing a mandatory life sentence for the murder of Ebanks should he be convicted. He is also charged with four counts of attempted murder and possession of an unlicensed firearm, convictions for which would automatically follow if the judge finds him guilty of murder given the circumstances of the shooting. If Jeffers is acquitted, however, it is unclear if he will be immediately released from custody as there are two other murder charges pending against him which are likely to be dropped in the face of a not guilty verdict in this case.

Although there were two masked gunmen who perpetrated the shooting on the 8 July 2010, Jeffers was the only suspect ever charged in the case.

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