Judge finds Ebanks guilty

| 30/09/2011

(CNS):Full story-Leonard Antonio Ebanks was found guilty on Friday of the murder of Tyrone Burell following a judge alone trial before Justice Charles Quin. Burell was killed by a gunshot wound to the head in a yard in Birch Tree Hill in West Bay in September last year. Handing down the guilty verdict in the gang related killing, the judge said he believed that Ebanks had confessed to the crown's key witness, Arlene White, the helper at the house where the young victim was killed. He said he had observed White over four days and found her to be an honest and reliable witness. He accepted that the defendant had motive and opportunity and possessed a gun, and handed down a guilty verdict and a life sentence. Speaking from the dock Ebanks denied killing Burrell and told the judge he had convicted an innocent man. (Photo courtesy Cayman27)

During the delivery of his verdict Justice Quin said he did not think that either White or the crown's second witness, Nora Ebanks, were unreliable or that theinconsistencies in their statements were such that he could not believe their evidence. He rejected the defence argument that White was a fantasist or that the second witness was testifying against the defendant because she wished him ill.

The judge rejected Ebanks' alibi that he was at home at the time of the shooting bathing with his wife because the two witnesses both put him very close to the scene of the murder a few seconds before and a few seconds after.

The judge said he relied on the evidence of the witnesses and that he believed the defendant had returned to the yard at Birch Tree Hill dressed in dark clothing and with a handkerchief wrapped around his hand to prevent gunshot residue getting on to his clothes with the intent of killing the victim. 

Justice Quin pointed to the confession Ebanks had made to White and said he believed there was other evidence that supported that confession. Although no gun was ever recovered, no eye witnesses to the shooting had come forward and no forensic evidence was presented in the case, the judge said that he believed that the key witness, whom he described as a courageous woman, had told the truth when she said she had seen Ebanks with a gun on several occasions.

Although Ebanks did not give evidence during the trial, he had given three statements to the police in which he denied killing the young man and implied there were other people that may have wanted him dead because he had fired shots at one man's grandmother's house and was also believed to have stolen drugs from others. The young victim was described by Ebanks as a runner for Damion Ming, who was on bail at the time awaiting the outcome of an appeal against a significant drugs charge but was shot and killed in the very same yard on the eve of his return to prison some months before. He had told police that he had nothing to do with the young man's murder.

As he handed down the verdict, the judge said he was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant was guilty. But as Ebanks stood to hear the judge pronounce the mandatory life sentence, Ebanks again protested his innocence. "I did not kill the young man," he told the court. "You have sentenced an innocent man to life," he said before he was taken in to custody. Quoting recent comments made by Police Commissioner David Baines, he added that it was a sad day for justice in the Cayman Islands.

Ebanks is the first defendant to face a judge alone trial in recent months to be convicted of murder following a run of acquittals in front of judges in gang related fatal shootings. This trial was also the first success for the prosecution in firearms related killings since a jury convicted four men of shooting Omar Samuels last September. Samuels was shot in the leg in McField Lane in George Town in July 2009 but died from his injury as the bullet penetrated his femoral artery.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Category: Crime

About the Author ()

Comments (66)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. An on nymus says:

    Those of us who knew this bad boy Tonio from growing are saying that this was not a case of IF but WHEN. Only God knows What he did not get caught doing. Hard Labor breaking big rocks into smaller rocks ( which he is used to do on the street) for a Lifetime would be very appropriate for him. Wish you a welcoming stay at Northward …

  2. Anonymous says:

    I wish some of these thugs who so bravely shoot down unarmed people when they are caught and convicted would have the balls to admit their crime instead of whining about being innocent.

    If you cannot do the time then do not do the crime.

  3. ThE_rEaL_bObO says:

    So many people are happy that there was “finally” guilty verdict…what makes you all so sure that those who were found innocent, weren’t innocent ? :S
    A lot of you, for reasons that are unknown to me want CLOSURE rather than justice to be served. Especially in the verdict recently ruled against Devon Anglin, the witness’ stories completely contradicted what the CCTV footage depicted, and 9/10 would have loved to have seen the proven innocent man locked away. It makes me sick to know because of you all’s bias towards certain people affects your judgement in whether you believe a man should be jailed or free, it is unfortunate what has happened and what is happening but the accused in these cases have lives also, while the child killed back then was innocent bottom line is so was the man accused.
    In this case, a judgement was made, a man was found guilty as per the judges decision and I hope a fair and unswayed judgement was made.

    • Anonymous says:

      If he so damned innocent why in the hell is he still waiting on his 2nd MURDER trial? Stop promoting these criminals bout they innocent this is Cayman's whole problem now!!!!

      • Anonymous says:

        Not because you are charged with a crime means you are guilty!! Look at Sandra Catron she was charged twice as well! The problem is people always assume so even when you are innocent and have no involvement people judge you unfairly. Look at the evidence in the case he just won it speaks for itself. He is accused that doesn't mean guilty. You would have a point if he was convicted but he's not! 

      • Anonymous says:

        People will never change. They will always judge. Such is life. 

      • Anonymous says:

        The problem is you people assume that when someone is charged they are guilty. He is waiting on his 2nd murder trial yes, he has not been convicted. He was proved innocent the evidence from that trial proved he was 'damned innocent'!! So please stop with the hating. It shows by the 'likes' that people just want closure but not justice. People seem to believe justice is only served when someone is found guilty not when they are found innocent. And for the final time it is easy to charge someone ( I could say ****** shot me and they would be charged) but to convict them takes proof and evidence! So please give it a rest and leave the man alone. 

      • Katina Anglin says:

        Comments like this is why a jury is a dangerous decision.

        And what I am about to say might bring me all thumbs down, but I'm used to all the controversy and hatred now, so really, it doesn't really matter any more.

        My son, Devon Anglin, was charged with the murder of Jeremiah Barnes. He was found innocent in court, based on the evidence. And regardless of who the judge was, the ONLY verdict that could be returned was a "not guilty" verdict. Not because it was a judge alone trial.  Because he was innocent. Because he was innocent was why there was no evidence that could be found against him, despite the countless searches conducted on his residence and those of family and friends repeatedly over the 18 months that he was wrongfully imprisoned awaiting trial. The parents DID NOT see who shot after his father – because the shooter wore a mask, but chose instead to lie to the police that they had. Yet, even in light of the contradictory statements that had been given to police, the police still charged him and legal department still took him to court. Even though they were aware of  and had viewed the CCTV footage themselves. In spite of the evidence that supported my son's innocence, they still pressed forward.

        Now, you ask  why he's awaiting trial on another charge? You're absolutely right!!! Why is my son, one more time being persecuted? Why IS he awaiting trial on another charge? WHY?

        But the answer to my questions (and the thumbs down) will only prove why a jury in this country is a dangerous decision.

      • Anonymous says:

        I must give it to the Police. By them charging him so much it has ruined his reputation and a good percentage of the Public believes he is automatically guilty before trial because he has been charged before. As your comment clearly states "If he so damned innocent why in the hell is he still waiting on his 2nd MURDER trial?". So you believe then that no matter the evidence proving a person's innocence once they have been charged their guilty. Now that is truly sad. I hope when that verdict comes back and if it is Not Guilty you'll say and ask yourself  If he is so damned guilty why is he not convicted! Thank God judges are educated and don't just follow the crowd.




  4. Anonymous says:

    What do you people want ?

    There have been acquittals in murder cases recently when everyone was clamouring for convictions…including the Commissioner ofPolice.

    Now that there's been a conviction, people are clamouring about a possibly 'innocent' man being convicted ?!

    Has anyone ever heard of a murderer 'fessing up and saying, 'yeah, I did it' ?

    Knowing Tonio (Leonard Ebanks) as I do, its his big, boastful mouth that has landed him this conviction, based on either 'confessing' or boasting to this Jamaican lady and showing off to her with a gun…those things I know him to be quite capable of…

    I never thought him capable of murder…but at the end of the day…

    It is the judge's decision to make and society's role to accept and respect that decision.

    • Anonymous says:

      You think you know the man? Well you don't. The only surprise is how it took so long for his past to catch up with him

      • Anonymous says:

        I don't THINK I know this man; I KNOW this man.

        I didn't say that I KNEW he was capable of murder or not; I said I didn't THINK that he was.

        But…at the end of the day, its his big, boastful mouth, as well as his past that's caught up with him…what I do KNOW of him is that he's quite capable of boasting and bigging up himself about things that he's either not done or done.

        The judge believed the person that he boasted to and that ends the matter right there.

        The truth is, Tonio's been convicted on purely circumstantial and second-hand evidence; there's no direct evidence that ties him to the murder, no eye witness who says they actually saw him pull the trigger, no gun or bullet found in his possession…so, from a legal viewpoint….

        Its purely his big, boastful, run-up-mouth thai's landed him a life sentence.

        • Anonymous says:

          Well said.

        • Well says:

          Maybe he should learn to stop bragging about murders and claiming responsibility for them. I certainly don't go around claiming that I murdered anyone. If I did I suspect the Police would be all over me.

          Its kind of like he was asked to raise his hand if he was guilty and he raised it, I mean the man confessed to murder, why should the jurdge not believe him if he was placed at the scene by two witnesses dressed in black at that and showed a gun to a witness as well ?

          That is just too much information …. TMI sorry.



  5. Anonymous says:

    Honestly, who knows what the truth is or whether we will ever know. He elected the judge alone trial and has to live with the outcome – no sympathy there.

    When you lie down with dogs, you are likely to catch fleas! What I am trying to say is that there is a big chance that even if you don't commit a crime directly, you may be guilty by association so I would recommend to anyone, be careful who you suround yourself with.

  6. Anonymous says:

    While you have put one in jail, six young kids have joined the gangs already.

    There is no stopping to it.

    Cayman is going to hell.

  7. Anonymous says:

    what they need to do is convict more of these idiots by judge alone and force them to go jury and us law abiding citizens will sort them out. We need more guilty verdicts!! Good job police Good job legal system, Good job everyone else involved!

    • Anonymous says:

      I had to respond to your comment 7:44. I'm glad to hear there are law abiding citizens willing to register and sit for jury duty, but I have also heard of so many citizens who are eligiable to vote, but do not register because they're afraid to sit for jury duty, and this is primarily because of gang violence and gang intimidation … so where do we go from there?

    • Trial by judge says:

      Trial by judge is actually not a common occurence and I would like to see a lot more people being refused that "right"




    • Anonymous says:

      Prejudice and pre-conviction mindsets such as this remark is why a jury has now become a liability here. Sorry. But I don't support your views at all.

      People are given the choice of judge or jury. The judge alone law was to alleviate any risk to the jury of tampering or intimidation.

      Now, you all want everyone who comes before the court to be tried by jury alone so that you can "sort them out". Basically what you've said is that they're guilty and bring them before you so that you can send them to court. You, in particular don't even need a trial, it appears – your mind is all made up already! 

      We should just send a jet for Castro and let him live with McKeeva! Honestly, it seems that this country is operating on a communist mindset! I am very, very concerned here!!!

      • Anonymous says:

        Correction: Basically what you've said is that they're guilty and bring them before you so that you can send them to prison (and not "court" as submitted earlier. My apology!)

  8. Anonymous says:

    for all those complaining about the judge being human and how can one man convict a killer instead of a jury…..please correct me if i'm wrong but the defendent would have ELECTED to be tried by judge alone.  That's a choice he made. 

    • Concerned Caymanian says:

      Let's stop second guessing the Judge.  He had all the evidence to weigh and we don't!!  Some of you complainers are probably the same ones who don't sign up for jury duty.  It's time the jury pool was widely expanded to reflect the people living here.

  9. Anonymous says:

    hey there, the man is guilty why would this woman the witness lie on this guy ,yes we've to look at the at the motive however the guy confess to this woman so the judge is correct in his judgement . praise be to god some justice is finally being done


  10. Anonymous says:

    AT THE BEGINING OF THE CASE  HE(DEFENANT EBANKS) MADE THE CHOICE TO  HAVE HIS CASE HEARD BY THE JUDGE ALONE.  This not  a siduation that we can complain about the judicial dept. he wanted it that way . every choice you make has a reward, wheather is in your favour or .

  11. Anonymous says:

    He found the lady that had visions to be a credible witness?  Grounds for appeal?

    • hmmm says:

      The Bible teaches that, in ancient times, God relayed His messages through the power of the Holy Spirit, to His chosen servants by visions and dreams. These messages were also given to the apostles and prophets (Amos 3:7Eph. 3:5).

      Cant argue with that can we?

      This woman is brave and was willing to do what so many of us are too cowardly to do. She stood up and told the truth and she is not even a Caymanian. Can you imagine? I hope her lesson reaches all of us. We need to stop allowing these thugs to hold us in fear of our lives, if we all stand up and tell what we know they will see there is strength in numbers, they can't kill us all!

      I say good for her and I hope others follow her example.


  12. Anonymous says:

    About time a life sentence was delivered for a killing. Good job.

  13. guilty??? says:

    Not on Leonard's side at all and I do like the Judge, but shouldn't verdicts be based off the facts instead of off circumstancial evidence?  Besides, isn't the Judge a human being who is able to make wrong assessments. Leonard from the start did not change his alibi that he is innocent. To me, that is very significant.

    • Anonymous says:

      So saying your are innocent is meant to prove that you are – what are you talking about!

      • Anonymous says:

        Well if you all think everyone who pleads innocent is guilty, God help those who are truly innocent… they'd end up treated as guilty and locked away anyways.  Just look how many innocent men have already been locked away and even executed over the years across the world.  Unfortunately 'justice' is not a perfect science.

    • Anonymous says:

      Come on now, who is going to admit to killing someone. Of course he is going to say he didn't so it. Don't all of them say it. I am sure most of them are not innocent. I think justice was served on this one. However I do feel that an appeal need to be done on other cases as there was much more evidence in prior cases and not gulity verdicts were handed down. People need closure and justice for their loved ones. Keep up the good work prosecutors. Doing your job will put a stop to a lot of these violent crimes. People need to know that their is a price to pay when you take someone else's life.

    • Anonymous says:


      People like you make youths thinks killing someone is like getting a happy meal… Cayman need to put their foot down when it comes to justice


      • Anonymous says:

        And people like you are happy even if an innocent man gets convicted and spends the rest of his life in jail.  Good job we don't have death row like the States or people like you would be happy to see the same innocent man die – just to be able to say someone got convicted.  And don't forget if this is the case the real murderer is still out there and capable of doing more damage.

        Don't get me wrong if he truly is guilty (which I wouldn't have a clue about as I don't associate with criminals nor was I in court for this trial), then I'd be happy to see him convicted or even die on death row, but anyone with a basic grounding in criminal law knows that circumstantial evidence is insufficient to convict, and just because so many have been aquitted recently and the head cop and others made a stink about it, criticising the judiciary, doesn't mean the next one goes down automatically as a scapegoat to save face for the judiciary et al.  So you're all celebrating a conviction and I only hope to God this man is guilty in which case he can rot in hell for all I care.  

        All I believe people are saying here on CNS is that we are hoping the conviction is a sound one, because from the way its reported it appears there are no hard facts to prove beyond reasonable doubt, just circumstantial evidence which in any other court of law would not be enough.  Most likely the people making these comments have studied law and realise that from what is reported, its not adding up.

    • Anonymous says:

      Shouldn't there be a Jury involved?

    • Anonymous says:

      It is significant that a criminal is claiming an alibi and sticks to it? Why? That is what I would expect. This is not Perry Mason.   

  14. Anonymous says:

    well well well.  say farewell to the 7 / 9 jury system not to be trusted it seems.  it is now everyone must put their trust in this 1 man to make the right judgement.. sad

    • Chris says:

      Not Sad – Disturbing.  All Murder cases should have a Jury.

      • Legal Seagull says:

        Everyone has the choice of whether they want a jury or judge alone for such charges.  So I don't see what the problem is.

    • Anonymous says:

      I will not speculate on who may or may not be guilty, what worries me is how a witness, apparently mother of boy who was shot saw the person she claims was the killer and her 'evidence' was not accepted but words of this witness were credible.

      Maybe I don't know enough about collecting evidence, but something just doesnt seem right when I compare the approach re witness credibility in the case with the boy and this recent case, by two different judges, I believe???

      • Anonymous says:

        In the other case the two witnesses evidence contradicted each other – here they were consistent.  Different case, different testimony, different outcome.  Nothing to do with the judge hearing it.

      • Katina Anglin says:

        I hope that I can offer you some clarity on your concerns: the evidence given by the mother was clearly contradicted by the CCTV video footage of the shooting and her husband and was determined by the court to be worthless.

    • noname says:

      Now we know how the criminals feel.  Well well well.  Sad….. for all of you.

    • Anonymous says:

      Trial by judge alone being the option of the accused, not the prosecution!  Not sad at all – this chap presumably thought he had a better chance with a judge dealing impartially with evidence than a jury .  

    • Anonymous says:

      He chose a judge only trial. He gambled that the evidence that might sway a jury of lay persons would not be strong enough to sway a judge. He was mistaken.

  15. Anon says:

    I like Justice Quin, and I believe he is a fair Judge!

  16. Anonymous says:

    At last

  17. Anonymous says:

    May your soul Rest in Peace Tyrone. You will not be forgotten. Thankful that some form of justice has been served.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Good news!  Lets hope he cannot appeal the verdict.

  19. Anonymous says:

    It's about time the courts got something right damnit!!

  20. Victorious Secret says:

    So many people wonder why it is that witnesses to crimes never come forward… Well this is the reason!

    If CNS or any other media entity can print a witness' name for the ENTIRE WORLD to see then why would any future witness want to come forward? We need to be protecting all witnesses not broadcasting their identity!

    Until we have this problem resolved we will always have unsolved crimes…

    • Anonymous says:

      I found that to be a bit odd myself.  Why on earth would they release the key witness name in a murder trial? 

      • Anonymous says:

        It was dealt with in open court – anyone could wander in off the street (and perhaps more people should!) – publishing the witnesses name is hardly releasing a secret.  Does the concept of openness in the justice system disturb you?  You would prefer that the trial was held in secret, the witnesses names were withheld from the accused so they had no opportunity to defend themselves,  and all the public would hear is whether there was a conviction or not without any explanation? 

    • Anon says:

      Those involved knew who the witness was from day one. So why not the public?

      We should be thanking the witnesses for standing up for what they believe are right, and for setting an example for other witnesses to follow.

      And Judges have more experience and expertise in evaluating a case than do Juror's (who usually have an unqualified opinion) – so in this type of case trial by Judge is the best choice for both the Defendant and the Public.

      Prosecutors just need to make sure they bring airtight cases to court.

    • Anonymous says:

      The first person to tell the offender about the second witness was a non-local policeman the night of the murder

  21. Anonymous says:

    Justice has been served!!!!!!!!!!! RIP Tyrone, you will always be in our hearts<3 We love you!

  22. Caymanian to da bone! says:

    One down…alot more to go..At last..a QUILTY VERDICT!!

    • Anonymous says:

      A what verdict?

      • Anonymous says:


      • JUSTICE says:

        This is justice served.  These Judges need to convict when they have some evidence.  If they only have a little bit of evidence still convict them.  Let them appeal, and make sure the appeal waiting time date is about 25 years from the trial.  Stop murdering people.

        • Anonymous says:

          Until you or one of yours ends up in prison, waiting for an appeal and then this present inhumane suggestion of yours will then be quoted by you as "an unfair system".

           The people of your country seem to be quite insistent on their request for an arbitrary system/state; be careful what you ask for…you just might get it. Your Premier apparently has that same legal logic and is ravenous for [more] power so getting to that point shouldn't be much of a problem. Enjoy it when you get it and remember, you asked for it and I told you so.

        • JTB says:

          Why ask for any evidence at all?


          Wouldn't it be easier to just lock up anyone accused by the police?


          Who needs the rule of law anyway?