Jury to choose defendant or witness for killer

| 20/04/2011

(CNS):Jurors sitting in the murder trial of William Martinez-McLaughlin have been told by the lawyers that they must choose whether it was the key witness or the defendant who killed Brian Rankine-Carter. In her closing speech the solicitor general told the jurors that the narrative given by Jason Hinds was detailed and consistent. Cheryll RichardsQC saidonly a playwright could come up with such a story if it wasn’t true. Meanwhile, the defence attorney pointed to inconsistencies in the witness’s account and the fact that a machete had been found at his home. Mark Tomassi said the crown’s case against his client amounted to a defence of Hinds and the jury must decide which man they believe had used a machete to kill Carter.

Summing up the crown’s case against Martinez, Richards pointed to what she said was the credibility of the story told by the principal witness, Hinds, in contrast to what she said was the contrived account told by Martinez.

“There is nothing inconsistent or unexplainable about Hinds’ evidence that should cause you to reject it,” Richards told the jury of ten women and two men. “There is a natural flow of events, so much so that you would have to be a playwright to be able to create what Hinds said.”

The islands’ top solicitor said that there was nothing contrived about the account that Hinds told, that he did not hesitate and there was a natural sequence of detail. “He did not over egg or guild the lily," she added.

Hinds had, Richards reminded the jury, made a clean breast of the events on the day he was arrested after telling the lawyer found to represent him to go and tell the full story. He led the police to his own clothes and the controversial machete, as well as where he said Martinez had disposed of the personal possessions he had taken from Carter. She questioned why Hinds would lead the police to his own blood-stained clothes or the murder weapon if he was trying to cover things up. Richards told the jury that Hinds leading the police to his own clothes was a fundamental point as they would never have been discovered without his direction. This was one of a number of things Hinds revealed that were not in his own interest, she said.

The crown also said that scientific evidence supported Hinds’ account as experts had said the blood on his clothes was consistent with transfer patterns fitting with the witness’s claim that he had twice held on to Martinez in an effort to pull him away from Rankine-Carter.

The machete found at Hinds’ house, which was not forensically examined until much later in the case as it was overlooked by the officers, was not proven to be the murder weapon, Richards said, although it could be consistent in part with markings on bone samples taken from the victim. She said it made no sense that if it were the murder weapon, Hinds would lead the police to it, propped up against the wall in his bedroom, and admit to using it to burying his clothes.

Richards said the jury would have to decide which of the police officers had made a mistake regarding the machete and the loss of video tape evidence. She cried foul, however, over accusations made by the defence that the mistakes, coupled with the existing relationship between the witness and Sgt Joseph Wright, who had taken Hinds’ first statement, was evidence of a conspiracy.

She told the jury that Martinez’ evidence that he stood still as Hinds brutally attack the victim with a machete only inches away or that there was no conversation between the two men after the event as they drove the length of the island was entirely contrived.

Richards said there were many aspects supporting Hinds’ account from expert witnesses and forensics to his cooperation with the police. The crown called on the jury to use their common sense and assess the evidence to return a true verdict.

Representing Martinez, Tomassi accused the crown of acting as the defence attorneys for Hinds, whom he said was the real killer and who should have been on trial. He pointed to areas of Hinds’ account that he said seemed implausible, from his account that he had fallen asleep while waiting for Martinez to throw the victim’s possessions in the ocean at High Rock to then telling the police where in the ocean to find them.

He said that the expert evidence indicating some unique features regarding the bone marks with the machete found in Hinds’ home meant it could not be ruled out as the murder weapon. Despite dismissing the expert, Tomassi said that if the crown had decided it was Hinds who was the killer it would have relied on that evidence to persuade the jury that it was very likely the tool used by the killer.

Focusing on the machete, Tomassi said that during the investigation the police had failed to question Hinds about the weapon because, whether through “cock-up or “conspiracy”, they had made a decision that Hinds was innocent and Martinez guilty before they had examined the evidence. There on after, he said, the goal was to make the evidence fit the case instead of investigating with an open mind.

“The machete became a casualty of the case because it had been decided before looking at all the evidence that Hinds was not the killer,” he told the jury.

He said the crown, who was batting for Hinds, had failed to demonstrate that their witness was innocent because they couldn’t because he was guilty of the murder. Tomassi said that Rankine-Carter had died because he was the victim of a homophobe who believed he had double crossed him.

“The only question you have to decide,” Tomassi told the jurors, “is, did Martinez McLaughlin kill Brian Rankine or did Jason Hinds kill him?”

After the attorneys finished their closing speeches, Justice Charles Quin, the presiding judge, was expected to begin his summing up for the jury on Wednesday afternoon. Following his explanations of the law in relation to the evidence they have heard over the last ten days, the jury is expected to be sent to deliberate on the verdict on Thursday morning. 

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Comments (4)

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  1. IRON CLAD says:

    Another Big Wig up for DISMISSAL.

    People, I see a BIG PROBLEM here.

    1 – It was understood that the Investigating Officer/Prosecutor dealing with the case was understood to be a close friend of Hinds’ family back in Jamiaca.

    2- The Investigating Officer IS a JAMAICAN national!!!

    3- It was understood that there was evidence in this case pointing to Hinds as the possible murderer, and ALL the evidence had very conveniently DISAPPEARED!!!

    4- Sheryll Richards(regrettably the SG) is seemingly DEFENDING Hinds with statements that would serve to CONVINCE THE JURY OTHERWISE!!

    5 – Sheryll Richards is ALSO a JAMAICAN national!!!

    I am sure everyone can figure out the rest.

    Truly IRON CLAD!!!

  2. MER says:

    I have to comment again, it is honestly hard to tell if Richards is the public prosecutor or Hinds’ personal attorney! As far as I am concerned both of these men should serve time, as they both seem to have had a part to play in this act and are now just playing the “blame game” in order to place the responsible on one or the other and get less time! Read between the lines you inexperienced bozos, when you are a prosecutor, a judge, a jury or any form of law enforcer you must ALWAYS keep an open mind, not a restricted mind-set that focuses only on what is presented before you and the “obvious”! A crime like this is certainly not going to be straightforward! And the theory “you forget the lies you tell” is a lie in itself, it is by far not difficult for a seasoned liar or criminal to hold true to a story keeping it “apparently” consistent! (Lawyers do it all the time for Heaven’s sake!!!!!!). Once again SHAME, SHAME, SHAME, on you ridiculous bunch for whom hold the keys to this island’s so-called system of justice!!!! The sheer fact the machete was not tested is attestment enough to the stupidity of the people we put in charge of handling these investigations, any wonder crimes cannot be solved and when they are, we still have to question if they are really “solved”!!! Also, if Martinez held the weapon, then why did Hinds have it? Ah, but we are not sure if it was even the REAL weapon because coincidentally there were no forensic tests done on it at the cases onset! Accused murderer’s statement taken by acquinted sergeant??? Conflict of interest perhaps?

  3. MER says:

    I sure hope CNS posts this comment! RCIP you are PATHETIC!!! I do not think that anywhere else in this entire world would overlook a forensic test on a weapon FOUND in one of the accused BEDROOMS post-murder!!! SHAME, SHAME, SHAME on you people who we pay to conduct thorough investigations for our own protection as civilians!!! Also, an accused murderer questioned by a Sergeant of whom he is friends with?? Seriously? The Cayman Islands is famous for more than just beaches, we have an abundance of morons in or police force!!! When you are caught Red-handed for a murder, throughout history it has been proven the best thing to do IS to admit, you usual get lesser penalties! So because of someone early admittance they are immediately ruled as not being a part of the said crime? This is by far one of the most ridiculous cases I have heard of since the burning of the “witches” in Salem!!

  4. Anonymous says:

    The two men should get the same punishment, why one is free ? and the other is still on trial.