Judge admits evidence

| 11/12/2009

Cayman Islands News(CNS): Justice Charles Quin has ruled in favour of the defence team representing Randy Martin over a question of admissibility on certain evidence that it says could point the finger of guilt for the murder of Sabrina Schirn away from Martin and towards another assailant. The Grand Court judge said that in the interests of ensuring a fair trial for the defendant he will allow telephone record evidence — phone messages left on Schirn’s voice mail on the eve of her murder and witness statements given to the police that suggest a false alibi — to be placed before the court.

As a result of the ruling, the judge himself will be calling the witnesses connected to the statements and the phone threats. He explained that he did not feel it was appropriate for him to compel the prosecution to call the witnesses, as it was not for him to tell the crown how to manage its own case, nor, he conceded, was it an ideal situation for the defence to call witnesses that it wanted to cross examine. He therefore said that a production order would be issued for one of the witnesses serving time in HMP Northward and a witness summons for the other.

The two witnesses have already been cited in the court during other testimony as having left threatening voice messages on Schirn’s voice mail service, and include an ex-boyfriend of Schirn’s and a nephew of Randy Martin, who is currently serving a twenty year sentence for attempted murder. The ex-boyfriend is also said to have visited Schirn’s place of work and physically threatened her in front of customers in the Blockbuster store.  

The defence wishes to cross examine both the witnesses about what they say are the threats, the opportunity and motive to commit the crime and, above all, their conflicting alibi statements that make it clear one or both were not entirely honest about their whereabouts at the time that the prosecution says, and the defence agrees, Schirn was murdered in East End close to the prison farm.

Prior to Justice Quin’s ruling that the evidence would be admitted, Adam King, junior counsel on the defence team along with David Evans QC, also told the court that he and his senior counsel had considerable concerns about the problem of disclosure that was continuing during the course of the trial. He explained that, again, the defence had been served with relevant documentation just a few days ago, which raised a number of questions about the culpability of others in this crime and the innocence of their client.

Suspicions by other witnesses and police officers that Schirn was under threat from her former boyfriend because she had knowledge of another serious crime he had committed were contained in police notebooks, which they had only just got sight of and had not yet had time to scrutinize properly..

King explained, however, that while he had not been able to examine all the evidence thoroughly as yet, he had already come across some 25 notable points, many of which the defence would have liketo have had the opportunity to cross examine witnesses on, but he said that those individuals have already come and gone through the witness stand, which placed the defence in a difficult situation.  

In the afternoon’s session King then cross-examined an expert witness on telephone records and established that the witness statements given to the police by Schirn’s former boyfriend, establishing his alibi, was almost certainly false. Although he had told police he was in West Bay with his girlfriend during the morning of the murder, his cell phone records clearly indicated his phone was in use in Red Bay until 10:30am. After being used and picked up by a cell site in Red Bay around 10:30, his phone is then completely inactive for two hours before the cell signal is activated again around 12:30pm in the same area.

The prosecution will continue with its case against Martin on Friday morning with police witnesses. The two witnesses that are to be called by the judge are likely to make their appearance in the court on Monday. Although originally scheduled to last three to four weeks, it is likely that this murder trial will now stretch into the New Year.    

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