Jeffers stands firm, relatives accused of lying

| 01/04/2014

(CNS): Despite an intensive grilling from the crown and the exposure to the jury of his existing murder conviction, Raziel Jeffers stood firm in the witness stand on Friday and Monday, stating that he was not the man who shot and killed Damion Ming. He denied being at Ocean Club during the weekend after the killing and confessing to his former girlfriend, as the crown pressed him on telephone evidence that placed him near the scene and calls he made to people at 177 Birch Tree Hill just before and immediately after the shooting in March 2010. Jeffers’ father also backed his account of why he changed his phone following the murder and his aunt told the court he was never at Ocean Club on the weekend after the killing.

Jeffers told the crown’s prosecuting counsel, Andrew Radcliffe, QC, that while his movements may be consistent with the case the crown was trying to make against him, the telephone evidence also fitted with his account. Despite not formally filing his alibi evidence until late in the case, Jeffers said that from the beginning he had told lawyers where he was on the night of the killing. He said he was with friends in Vibes Lane and later a West Bay Bar and that he was never at Ocean Club the weekend following the murder, when the key witness against him says he made a confession.

He said that he had stopped using his phone the night Ming was killed as that was the night his ex-girlfriend had stabbed him with a pen and marked the point where the hostility between the couple had escalated.

Later that night he had gone to another woman’s house and turned off the phone he was using, which in any event had belonged to his ex, so she couldn’t bother him anymore. He said that his ex had also wanted that phone back, so the next day he went to his father’s place of work and got a spare phone from him. He then asked his father to deliver the phone to his ex-girlfriend, who was still living at his father’s house in Fairbanks.

Far from being consumed with jealousy over her and Ming, Jeffers told the court he was hardly spending any time with her at that point and their animosity escalated further in May, when she pelted a rock at him outside a nightclub. Jeffers' father then evicted her.

He said the witness went to the police and made up lies about him as a result of an accumulation of things and she wanted to harm him. He pointed to the eviction as a main reason, even though his father threw his ex out after she had gone to the police about the alleged confession.

Jeffers said he believed that the things she told the police about Ming’s killing were things which were on the street. She had a knack, Jeffers said, of picking up the local news and gossip quickly, as she was always on BBM and Facebook.  This, he said, was why he called her after he had heard about Ming’s killing at the house where they lived, as one of her best friends lived there. Despite their earlier altercation, he wanted to see if she knew anything, not to taunt her, as suggested by the crown, because he had killed the man he thought was her former lover.

He denied being a bullying and controlling boyfriend but painted a picture of a desperate teenage girl with no family of her own, nowhere to go, who had given birth to a baby that was likely his, and so he felt an obligation towards her. Jeffers said he had told her on countless occasions that there was no future in their relationship, and at the time of the murder they were hardly together.

Taking the stand as a defence witness, Jeffers' father, Eustace Jeffers, confirmed the account that he gave the court about the phone change. He denied lying on his son's behalf when the crown asked him about the circumstances of the swap and why he claimed to be the one to give his son's girlfriend the replacement phone.

Jeffers had said that the phone silence after the murder for some fifteen hours was because he had turned it off so his ex would not bother him. He had then not turned it back on. He had made or received close to 200 calls and messages before it suddenly went dead. He took his father’s phone the following day and so then resumed his usual heavy use of the phone.

He said the calls he had made to various people at 177 Birch Tree Hill just before Ming was gunned down were to see if people he knew there were going out that night. The calls after, he said, were to find out what had happened.

He denied getting through to one person at the scene, who was overheard after the killing stating that someone had just called him to see if Ming was dead. It was evident from telephone records that Jeffers had made a call to that person at that exact time. Jeffers said he had not spoken to the man but got through to his son, and the father never came to the phone. 

Jeffers had also denied being at Ocean Club the weekend his former girlfriends said he made the confession. Despite the phone evidence placing both Jeffers and the key witness in the same cell site across the two days, the defendant pointed out it was also the same cell site that covered the area where he was, which was at his new girlfriend’s house in Prospect.

Jeffers' aunt was also adamant when she gave evidence that Jeffers was not at her apartment or her daughter’s apartment, which was next door at Ocean Club, during the weekend after Ming was killed, even though the crown’s witness had claimed that this is where Jeffers had made his confession. Bonnie Anglin said she couldn’t remember seeing his former girlfriend either, and that she would remember that because spending time with her was always eventful and not easy to forget.

Anglin also revealed that his former girlfriend had been infuriated by Jeffers’ rejection of her following the incident outside a nightclub just before his arrest, where, she said, they had fought and his ex told his aunt that she was going to “fuck him up”. The defendant’s aunt stated that his former girlfriend had told her she was going to go to the police and “tell them just want they wanted to hear and put him away for the rest of his life”.

His aunt denied the crown’s allegations that she was rallying around with the family to help her nephew.

The prosecutor asked why she had not gone to the police when she knew the allegations were based on a confession allegedly made at her apartment in Ocean Club,  having such critical information suggesting it had not been. She said she was incensed the police had not verified anything with her.

Anglin told the court that it was well known in Cayman that the police don’t investigate crimes but simply pick a suspect and do what they can to build a case around that person without seeking out the real information. She said that if she had gone to the RCIPS to say the confession could not be true as Jeffers and his ex were not there together at her apartment as alleged, they would simply have dismissed her information. The aunt said that, instead, she had written everything down about that weekend shortly after Jeffers was charged in preparation for what she believed would be the day in court.

The trial continues in Grand Court.

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