Murder trial opens with key prosecution witness

| 08/07/2009

(CNS): William David Martinez-McLaughlin (32) appeared in Grand Court this morning to face trial for the murder of Brian Rankine last year. Rankine’s naked body was found in a parking lot around midnight on 16 May 2008 in McField Lane, George Town. A jury of eight women and four men heard first from Jason Hinds, the prosecution’s primary witness, who told the court he was with both McLaughlin and the deceased on the night the victim was murdered. Hinds testified that he saw McLaughlin hold a cutless (machete) over his head and chop at the victim.

Hinds, who has pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact of murder and is awaiting sentencing, is the Crown’s primary witness. After a short opening statement from Solicitor General Cheryll Richards, where she explained that Crown’s case was based on Hinds’ testimony, Hinds took the stand and told the court that he and McLaughlin had been work colleagues for some time at a local plumbing firm.

He told the court that he and McLaughlin had been together on the night of 16 May and described the events. Hinds said that he and the defendant had met the victim in a bar that night in East End and had both drove with him in their work van to George Town. Hindsrelated to the court an exchange which took place outside the van between the deceased and McLaughlin when the three arrived in McField Lane in George Town that started with an argument over what he said looked like a white piece of paper with something in it.

Hinds said he saw McLaughlin grab the victim by the neck and drag him towards some bushes. The witness described a scuffle between the two men and then said that as he went over towards them they both stumbled to the floor with the victim on his belly and McLaughlin on top of him holding his neck.

Hinds testified that he attempted to pull McLaughlin from the man by grabbing his arms from behind and telling him to let go of the victim but had felt a pointed metal object in his hand and moved away.

“I got scared and went back to the van,” Hinds told the court. “I thought he might try to stab me with what he had in his hand.” He described how he could no longer see both of them from his van but that McLaughlin rushed back and pulled a cutless from behind the passenger seat and a white plastic bag and went back to the man (Rankine).

“I saw him start chopping,” Hinds told the court and described McLaughlin raising the cutless above his head. “He was chopping very fast, chopping like he was crazy and not hisself.”

Hinds said he couldn’t see both men but just the chopping action. “I was terrified,” he told the court and described how he stayed in the van for a while before he pulled open the door and ran to see if he could stop him.

“When I reached over there he was pulling off the man’s clothes and stuffing them in the bag,” Hinds stated. He told the court that he held McLaughlin’s wrists and told him to leave the man alone and McLaughlin did not say anything.

Hinds went on to describe how he had driven McLaughlin home to East End but had stopped at two locations on the way home to allow McLaughlin to dispose of the cutless and clothes and how he was afraid he too would be attacked. He also said that he buried his own clothes the next morning in his own garden as they had blood on them and cleaned his boots with bleach before going to collect McLaughlin and going to work. He described how the two men were then arrested and how he had eventually told the police everything and taken them to the murder scene and the places where McLaughlin had disposed of the clothes and the weapons.

Following his account of the night, Mark Tomassi, lead counsel for the defence, began a short cross examination before the day’s proceedings were adjourned. Focusing on the truth and honesty, he asked Hinds if he believed that burying his own clothes and cleaning his boots were honest or dishonest acts.

Hinds indicated his confusion and said that he had been scared.

The trial before Justice Alex Henderson is expected to last nine days and Hinds continues on the stand today (8 July).

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Category: Headline News

About the Author ()

Comments are closed.