Verdict on teen murder suspect set for Friday

| 06/06/2012

(CNS): Justice Alex Henderson said he will deliver his verdict in the crown’s case against 18 year old Chakane Scott on Friday 8 June, after the prosecuting and defence attorneys finished their closing statements Tuesday. The judge is hearing the case alone in which the crown says the East End teenager shot and killed his friend Asher McGaw (21) last September.  The case depends almost entirely on the evidence of 17 year old Antascio Rankine who says he was with both McGaw and Scott in the early morning hours when his best friend was killed and points the finger at Scott. However, the defence says Rankine is an unreliable witness making a false accusation against Scott.

Although the teenage defendant gave a no comment interview to police on his arrest and retained his silence during the trial offering no evidence in his defence, his attorney Sasha Wass QC told the court Tuesday that her client was not there when McGaw was shot multiple times in John McLean drive.

She said the crown’s case rested solely on the evidence of one witness which was “riddled with doubt” and was not a witness “worthy of belief” as she disputed the crown’s claims of corroborating evidence from the pathologist andother civilian witnesses.

Despite discussion on the law regarding the silence of a suspect under the new police legislation Wass reminded the judge that he could not find here client guilty just because he had not given evidence as the right to silence still remained.

Wass said that Rankine’s accusation came as a result of the way the police handled the teenager when he was asked to make a statement. She said that in his first statement Rankine had denied knowing anything about the murder of his friend but was persuaded to make another statement by police after a senior officer said he believed he was hiding something. Wass said that Rankine told the police what he thought they wanted to hear in his second statement. “We say he has fabricated his evidence,” she added.

The QC said there were a number of significant doubts about Rankine’s account of the murder as well as no explanation for some other 23 injuries that McGaw had sustained just before he died. She also raised questions about how Scott could have concealed the gun used in the murder, given what he was wearing on the night in question.

Wass also suggested that in his account to the police Rankine may have woven elements of truth into a false accusation. “There is no certainty and no support for Rankine’s evidence,” she said adding that the crown had been unable to prove who pulled the trigger. “On the critical issue of who pulled the trigger there is no evidence at all supporting,” his account.

The crown had given no motive for Scott to kill McGaw during the trial which Wass admitted was not required but as the two men were friends while there were others who did have motive to kill McGaw as a result of gang rivalries between the East End youngsters and those in Bodden Town.

Wass also pointed to the teenage witness’s failure to call 911 after he said he had seen his friend gunned down. She said while it may have been plausible that he did not go to assist McGaw after he was killed but at the very least he could have called the emergency services. “He left his friend to die in the street,” the QC accused.

“The case is riddled with doubt and uncertainty, based on an unbelievable witness who changed his story at the behest of the police,” Wass told the court, as she added that finding her client guilty the court would be convicting on wholly unreliable evidence.
The crown contended that Rankine had no motive to lie and was by accusing Scott who had threatened him to keep quiet, a threat overheard by another witness, taking a great risk.

Trevor Ward senior crown council said there was corroborating evidence for Rankine’s account from the pathologist and civilian witnesses who had seen the three men together less than an hour before the shooting. He said that Rankine had no motive to falsely accuse the defendant as they too had been friends and there was no evidence that they had fallen out.

“Rankine gives a truthful account in circumstances where he did not have to come forward,” crown counsel noted. Ward noted that Rankine was not a suspect at the time and the police did not know he knew anything of the crime until he gave an account. The prosecutor said that be giving his account he placed himself in the middle of a murder case in which he too could have become a suspect.

“The reason why he did so was because he is being truthful and witnessed his best friend being shot by the defendant,” the crown’s attorney stated to the court.

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