‘Old lady’ had been arrested

| 12/08/2014

(CNS): A 64-year-old witness in the trial of Raziel Jeffers for the shooting death of numbers man Marcos Duran on 11 March 2010 was arrested by police thirteen months after the incident on suspicion of conspiracy to commit murder, it was revealed in court Monday. Rita Martinez, who used to buy illegal lottery numbers from Duran and whose home he was visiting just before he was shot during a bungled robbery by three armed men, was summoned to court as a witness for the joint trial of Jeffers and Jordan Manderson on 18 April 2011. That trial did not go ahead as the two men were ultimately tried separately, but as Martinez, who was 61 at the time, was leaving the court a police officer asked her to come to the police station, and there she was arrested.

Rita Martinez, the aunt of Meagan Martinez, who was also a witness in this trial, said that on the night of his death Duran had come to her apartment on Maliwinas Way in West Bay sometime after 7pm. It wasn’t one of his usual nights and he had just dropped by to ask if she wanted to buy some numbers.

She told the court that she was alone in the apartment except for her common law husband’s mother when Duran arrived – conflicting with Meagan’s testimony that Jeffers had been there to give his three ‘solders’ the heads up when to rob him.

Rita Martinez said that when Duran left, she went back to her sitting room to watch TV, but then she heard a thump as if something hit the door, and when she looked through the window, she saw his body lying outside but did not see anyone else.

She had given a statement to the police the night of the murder and a second a few days later on the 15 March, and a third on 5 May that year, and in those first three statements she had not said that Jeffers was there that night. But on the 7 June, she had made another statement in which she said that Jeffers had come to her home around 7:10 that night to ask if Meagan and their baby were there. Shortly after he left Duran had arrived and Martinez said in the June statement that the two men could have passed each other on the staircase or in the parking lot.

However, in court Monday she said she had been confused by the police when she gave that statement because they had said that someone had told them that Jeffers had been there that night. When she thought about it afterwards she decided she had been wrong about him being there and stuck to this version of events on the witness stand.

Director of Public Prosecutions Cheryll Richards, QC, suggested to her that it was the June statement that was the truth and she was deliberately concealing the fact that Jeffers had been there that night because she did not want to get involved. She asked Martinez how could she not have remembered who was there on such an unusual and startling night. The crown also noted that another niece of hers, Diane, is now married to Jeffers.

Brian O'Neill, QC, for the defence led her through the events of her arrest for conspiracy to commit murder. Rita Martinez, 61 years old at the time, had come as a good citizen to give evidence on 18 April 2011 in the joint trial of Jeffers and Manderson (who was later tried separately and acquitted).

But as Martinez was leaving the courthouse, an officer had asked her to come to the police station and she had been arrested. A lawyer, Nicola Moore, had come to represent her and a prepared statement had been given to the police, in which she described herself as an “old lady who gets very confused”.

When she was summoned as a witness for Manderson’s trial she brought a letter for the judge, together with a doctor’s note, asking to be excused from giving evidence because she was very stressed and confused, suffering from acute anxiety, and was on medication for depression and other ailments.

Chief Justice Anthony Smellie, who had called the witness to the court, asked Martinez about her job at this time. She said she had been working as a human resource officer at Red Sail Sports, dealing with work permits and other staff matters.

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