Witness saw danger for victim

| 06/09/2011

(CNS): The key prosecution witness in the crown's case against Leonard Ebanks for the murder of Tyrone Burrell told the court on Tuesday how she had visions that the young victim was in danger before he was shot. Arlene White, who worked at the house in Birch Tree Hill where Burrell was killed one year ago, said that before she ever met him she had seen Burrell in visions. When she met him for the first time some three weeks before he was killed, she had already sensed he was in danger. Hours before 20 year old Burrell was murdered, White told him to go home from the yard in Birch Tree Hill before night fell. “Every time I see that little youth I could see death, I could see trouble for him,” she said.

The first witness to take the stand in the case against Ebanks, White told the court that she had seen the defendant seconds before the killing rushing into the yard where Burrell was shot. She described him wearing black clothes, a black hat and having a black and white handkerchief wrapped around his hand – a very different outfit from the one he was wearing when he had left the yard earlier that afternoon.

White said that she had tried to warn Burrell to leave because of the danger she sensed but he had not listened to her warning. “Normally, when I pray, God shows me things and when I saw him, I could sense he was in danger.”

In his opening statement for the prosecution, Trevor Ward told the court that although no one had seen Leonard Ebanks pull the trigger, the crown intended to prove that he did.

Twenty-year-old Tyrone Burrell was killed by a single gunshot to the back of the head at 177 Birch Tree Hill on 8 September 2010. He was the sixth person to be shot and killed in a year that was marred with gun related killings.

The prosecuting counsel said Ebanks was seen at the murder scene both seconds before and after by witnesses, he had motive and, above all, he had confessed to Arlene White, whom he had known for several months and with whom he had a close rapport, that he was the gunman.

Ward said Ebanks believed that Burrell “had shot up Devon’s grandmother’s house and that he was a spy, carrying news from the Birch Tree Hill gang to the Logswoodgang,” and told this to White. The witness had also seen Ebanks some two weeks after the shooting with a revolver in his clothes, which he told her he need for protection, Ward revealed to the court.

At a later date, Ebanks had also told a police officer that he believed that Burrell had been trying to “set up the boys from Birch Tree Hill to be killed” because he had seen him leave the area many times to then meet with “Fat Patty from the Logswood gang at Kelly’s bar,” he had said.  Ebanks told the police officer that he was “one of the elders of Birch Tree Hill” as he lived there.

Ward listed the evidence against Ebanks, saying he had been placed at the scene of the shooting, he had motive and had confessed to White. The lawyer stated that White had no reason to lie about the confession since she had been friends with Ebanks, who had spent a great deal of his time in the home where she was the helper. Even after his arrest Ebanks had still been friendly with White. “She has no motive to fabricate evidence against him,” Ward added.

The leading counsel for the crown told the judge that once all of the evidence was produced the court would find that Leonard Ebanks had murdered Tyrone Burrell.

The case, which is being tried by Justice Charles Quin alone without a jury, continues tomorrow in Grand Court.   

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