Appeal reveals key evidence

| 25/07/2012

raziel (226x300).jpg(CNS): Evidence that a key crown witness had lied during the Grand Court trial of Raziel Jeffers (28) for the murder of Marcus Ebanks was revealed during an appeal court hearing, Tuesday. Michael Wolkind QC, who was representing Jeffers in his appeal against the murder conviction following a judge alonetrial in February, said telephone evidence demonstrating that Megan Martinez was not a truthful and consistent witness had never been shown to the judge and as a result there had been a substantial miscarriage of justice. He also argued that there was apparent bias on behalf of the judge as only weeks before the trial he had seen a secret dossier accusing Jeffers of three other murders.

Wolkind argued that the conviction against Jeffers was unsafe on two grounds when he began his presentation to the Cayman Islands Court of Appeal Tuesday morning. The British QC said that Justice Charles Quin had seen a confidential police report during an anonymity hearing that indicated his client was accused of three other murders. He was also described in the dossier as being one of the community’s most dangerous criminals and gang members who would not hesitate to killand who had also ordered killings even from his prison cell.

However, neither Jeffers nor his defence team were aware that the judge had seen such a report at the time of trial.

Wolkind argued that the judge "knew too much" to be able to put it out of his mind as he was not just there to judge the law but in the absence of a jury he was also the tribunal of fact. He said in such an extreme case of accusations made by the police so close to his clients trial the risk of bias was great and the judge even if he believed he was putting it out of his mind would have found it very difficult.

He said it was overwhelmingly apparent that given such circumstances, if Jeffers and his original defence team had been aware of what the judge had seen they would have made an application for another judge to hear the case. The QC said the judge would have recused himself and another judge who was unaware of the police’s damming opinion of the defendant could have heard the case.

However, it was Wolkind’s second ground of appeal that appeared to really shake the conviction against Jeffers, when he revealed that critical evidence indicating that Megan Martinez was lying when she took the stand against Jeffers was never shown to the judge.
Wolkind argued that had the judge been aware that telephone evidence existed, showing that Martinez could not have been at home on the day she said she saw and heard Jeffers plot the murder in Bonaventure Lane in July 2009, he could not have found her to be a safe witness.

The QC pointed out that although Jeffers himself had brought the telephone records to the attention of his own defence lawyers, the crown and the chief justice the records were never analysed and presented at trial. As a result, the defendant missed a crucial opportunity to show that the evidence of Martinez, his former girlfriend who had grounds to hold a grudge against, was fabricated and she was not a credible witness as the judge had found.

With so much weight being given to Martinez’s testimony which Wolkind said was now completely in question the conviction could not possibly be safe.

“The significance of the call record cannot be overstated,” he said.

The defence lawyer said he could not explain, nor could his client, why evidence that clearly showed that Martinez’s movements on the day in question, according to the phone records, mirrored almost exactly those she had given to the police on interview in her first statement just a matter of days after the murder.

It was not until many months later after the teenage mother had split from the defendant and was shut out of the Jeffers family home that she then went to the police retracted her original statement and claimed to have heard Jeffers confess to a string of murders including the shooting at Bonaventure.

Wolkind argued that given the fact that the details she had given to the police in the wake of the shooting matched her phone record, the second statement made much later would have been viewed in a very different light at trial had thejudge seen the phone evidence. He said at the very least his client should have had the opportunity to cross examine Martinez’s evidence in light of the damning telephone records as he appealed for his client’s conviction to be overturned.

The appeal continues tomorrow in Grand Court One when Andrew Radcliffe QC will argue on behalf of the crown why he believes the conviction is safe.

Jeffers is currently serving a life sentence for the fatal shooting of Marcus Ebanks in July 2009 outside a home in Bonaventure Lane in West Bay. The crown claimed that Jeffers and another man had opened fire indiscriminately on a group of boys sitting in a yard just after sunset in an effort to kill Jose Sanchez one of Jeffers alleged gang enemies.

During the shooting, Sanchez along with Joe Bush escaped unscathed while Adryan Powell who was only 14 years old at thetime received multiple gunshot wounds one of which resulted in him being paralysed. Ebanks’ younger brother Rod was also shot but he later recovered from his injuries.

Although Powell also identified Jeffers during the trial when he gave evidence via video link, the crown relied heavily on the evidence of Martinez who described what she believed were the suspicious movements of Jeffers on the evening of the murder and who testified that sometime later Jeffers had confessed to the shooting and had admitted that Ebanks was shot in error as his target had been Sanchez.

See related CNS story:  Judge finds Jeffers guilty

Category: Crime

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