Lawyers focus on motive

| 15/01/2010

(CNS):  As both lawyers closed their cases on Thursday in the trial of Randy Martin for the murder of Sabrina Schirn in East End last March, motive became the focus of the legal teams. Solicitor General Cheryll Richards said that the prosecution was not required to provide a motive to prove its case, butsaid they had put forward a powerful reason for Martin to kill Schirn. However, the defence argued that the motive was demonstrable weak and, in fact, the crown had provided no motive at all. Despite there being no requirement, the defence said there were few murder cases with an absence of motive, as in this instance.

When Richards closed the crown’s case, she pointed to the circumstantial evidence, which, when placed together, indicated the guilt of the defendant. She said that motive was not required but pointed to the belief that Martin had harboured that Schirn was connected to his brother’s shooting, which, she said, was a powerful reason. She said there was evidence of premeditation and planning of the crime, the opportunity to commit it, conduct that pointed to guilt, and DNA evidence against Martin.

She dismissed the fact that Martin had only one good arm, and noted that witnesses had said Martin was able to manipulate his weaker arm and in court he had refused the assistance of the usher when handling exhibits. She said that, despite the conflicting witness statements of prison officers, Officer Dehanny had a more accurate recollection and he had said Martin was missing for about 45 minutes at lunch time, when it is believed Schirn was killed.

Richards pointed to telephone evidence that conflicted with Martin’s statements, which he could not explain away, and she described him as someone who spoke and told lies when there was no need to. “His explanation is contrived and implausible,” Richards stated. The solicitor general said he had access to a weapon and his conduct and behaviour following the murder pointed to guilt. She said witnesses referred to Martin appearing in different clothes and there was the DNA evidence. She said his explanation for Sabrina’s blood on his belt and glove was incredulous and that no woman would use a dirty soiled glove to wipe herself in such an intimate way when in her car there were so may other things to use.

She also noted that Schirn’s and hisDNA were inside the glove — something that again he could not explain. She dismissed the evidence of the witnesses called by the court and stated that there was no evidence that Lance Myles was involved and that even the defendant had suggested Myles did not know where the meeting places were on the prison farm.

Closing the defence’s case, lead counsel David Evans QC focused very much on the motive and said that the complete absence of a motive was significant. He said the crown’s case that Martin believed Schirn was responsible for his brother’s shooting was simply not true. It was well documented, Evans said, that by March 2009 Martin knew full well the identity of the girl that had made the phone call to bring the gunman to his brother’s door. Evans said there was just no motive, even though the crown had searched hard for one.

“In his own words, why would I wish to kill Sabrina?” Evans stated, adding that this was the key question. While Martin had no motive, others certainly did, Evans claimed, and noted the threatening messages left my Myles. He said that the evidence gatherers had failed to conduct a thorough enough investigation and left the Myles question hanging, which had to raise doubts about the strength of the crown’s case, and the court was required to consider that other evidence.

He said Martin’s conduct was equally likely to point to innocence as it was guilt and that there were significant gaps in the crown’s case which had led them to speculate about what may have happened and arrived at curious scenarios. If anything, he said, the crown’s case was “wholly implausible and incredible”.

Referring to the idea that Martin had planned the murder, he said that would have been a very high risk scenario and very difficult to put together. He asked how he had gotten the machete passed Sabrina in the first place, how he had driven the car away in bloody clothes without leaving anything more than a mere trace on the ignition, or how he had reportedly changed his bloody clothes without being noticed — clothes which, despite extensive searches, were never found.

“Many features go against pre-meditation if the defendant had committed this crime,” Evans said. He noted that if Martin was the assailant there were many guesses and gaps in the evidence that were difficult to explain away if the defendant was guilty but would be easier to explain if it was another perpetrator who was not at the time incarcerated.

The defence noted that the crown did not put forward the case that Martin could have been at the scene with someone else, whom for whatever reason he had decided not to declare, but the defence said if the court chose to consider that option it was unlikely that Martin was himself the killer, even if he was there. Evans said the crown had not proved Martin was at the scene or that he was the killer.

Pointing to the lack of blood when Martin returned to the farm and his attempts to secure the ganja, Evans said this was not the behaviour of a man who was aware that a young woman’s body lay less than a mile away, killed at his hand. The QC noted the small amount of blood found on the glove and so little found in the car, which he said all pointed to Martin’s explanation of having sex with Sabrina when she was menstruating and using the glove to clean up. He said if the glove been used to weald a machete that chopped at Sabrina so many times in such a brutal attack, there would have been much more blood on it.

Evans said the crown had failed to prove its case and there was no surety, no certainty, and if the burden of proof was applied properly by the court, this case was not proven.

Martin elected for a judge alone trial before Justice Charles Quin, who is now considering the evidence. Unlike in a jury trial, when a judge decides a case he must also give a full explanation for his verdict, so when he notifies the court that he is ready to give that verdict he will also reveal the reason for his decision. CNS will be there to report on that at the earliest possibility.

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