Cops accused of bungling case

| 05/07/2011

(CNS): During his closing speech in the retrial of Josue Carillo-Perez for the murder of Marty Gareau in May 2008, lead counsel Anthony Donne QC told the judge his client had been prejudiced by the poor standard of the murder investigation. Speaking on Tuesday at the end of a long trial in the Grand Court, he said that the police had “closed their minds” once they believed that the finger prints found on the garage door matched those of his client and all other “reasonable lines of investigation” were stopped, including other suspects. As he summed up for the judge, Donne added that the failure of the police to properly investigate meant that evidence which might have cleared his client of suspicion remained “overlooked and undiscovered”.

He pointed to a list of avenues not explored by the officers investigating the murder and said the crown’s case hung solely on two smudged prints, which were left by his client when he was a guest at Gareau’s home some two weeks before the killing.

“The investigation was not in the least well carried out, to put it kindly,” the lawyer told the judge as he listed a number of lines of enquiry that were only partially pursued or even completely ignored by the police. He said their failure to follow up on a number of areas that might have eliminated the defendant from the investigation had prejudiced his client and placed him in the position he was in, as the man charged with the murder. 

As he summed up the defence case in a trial that has now stretched into its seventh week, Dunne listed a catalogue of failures by the investigators. He said that the police had not taken prints or DNA from a cup seen in the garage that was likely used to pour the detergent that was found on Gareau, that they had not followed up on the statement given by the boyfriend of the woman Gareau was known to be pursuing and they had never investigated the victim’s second phone.

The lawyer also said the police had failed to investigate the size 13 bloody footprint found at the scene that could not have belonged to either the defendant or the victim, nor had they ever sent hair found at the seen for DNA testing.  The QC said there were many basic matters that should have been investigated that were simply ignored or not followed through.

Dunne also pointed to the expert defence testimony that had narrowed down the time of death to when his client had a concrete alibi. He said the crown’s accusations that the defendant’s stay at a hotel during the weekend of the murder was a last minute attempt at concocting an alibi was wrong as added there was uncontested evidence that it was arranged the week before. The QC pointed to questions surrounding the crown’s fingerprint evidence, which is what the entire case was based upon, and went as far as to say that the fingerprint expert was not just a poor witness but one that had tried to "pull the wool over the court’s eyes” with his “dishonest comments” in order to avoid admitting he was wrong.

Dunne told that judge that his client had co-operated from the start of the investigation by volunteering his prints and DNA and noted that he had never attempted to flee the jurisdiction. Even when he was acquitted after his first trial, despite knowing the prosecution had appealed the decision, he never tried to leave the jurisdiction.

Perez first stood trial for the murder of Canadian national Marty Gareau in July 2009. Gareau’s bloody and beaten body was found in the garage of his Beach Bay home after the holiday weekend in May 2008. Perez was arrested based on two smudged prints, which the crown say were found on the garage door that were made in the victim’s blood.
The Honduran national has, however, persistently claimed his innocence as he had been at Gareau’s home only a few weeks before the killing and was in the garage helping the victim with the barbeque.

He was found not guilty in his first trial by judge alone but the acquittal was overturned by the Cayman Islands Court of Appeal in March 2010. The appellant judges ordered a retrial as they said the trial judge had erred when he suggested in his ruling that in a case of murder the burden of proof was higher.  Perez, who had attended the appeal, was re-arrested immediately and returned to Northward following five months of freedom. He has remained in jail since and now awaits the verdict of Justice Smith, who indicated that he would hand down his ruling in two weeks.

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