Jury told ignore other trial

| 13/08/2014

(CNS): Chief Justice Anthony Smellie told the jury for the trial of Raziel Jeffers, who is accused of murder, that the fact that Jordan Manderson, who is named on the indictment, has stood trial and been acquitted of the shooting death of numbers man Marcos Duran and that others who have been named in this trial as accomplices have not been prosecuted does not prevent them from deciding the truth of the indictment, which states that Jeffers, together with Jordan Manderson, murdered Duran on 11 March 2010. In his summation, the chief justice told the one man and 11 women on the jury panel that they are responsible to judge the facts before them in this case and that what had been decided in another trial is irrelevant.

In his direction to the jury, Chief Justice Smellie told them that in order to find the defendant guilty of murder they must first be sure that there was a plan to rob the victim, that the defendant was involved in that plan with others and accept that he was the mastermind. They must be sure, the chief justice said, that in the carrying out of that plan, murder was committed, and also, given the nature of the crime, that the murder was a probably consequence, which means that a reasonable person could have foreseen what would happen, even if it was not the defendant’s intent.

Although Jeffers is on trial for murder, the crown is not suggesting that he actually pulled the trigger that killed Duran during a bungled robbery attempt or even that he was present, but has made the case that Jeffers masterminded the crime and armed the assailants, and is therefore guilty of murder. The victim was killed outside 28 Maliwinas Way, West Bay, as he went on his rounds to sell illegal numbers and to collect money.

The CJ told them that if they were sure that the defendant was involved in the planning and use of firearms but are not satisfied that it was murder, they can find him guilty of manslaughter. He asked them to consider whether the defendant was party to an unlawful and dangerous act that resulted in the death of Duran and if so they can convict him of the lesser offence.

The jury was also reminded that Jordan Manderson had repeatedly said that Andy Barnes, a member of a rival gang and his sworn enemy, was the one who had shot him. The chief justice asked them to consider whether Manderson had concocted or distorted the truth. He noted that Manderson, known as “Pinga”, had initially lied about where he had been shot but his blood had been found at the scene. He asked the panel to think about why he was at Maliwinas Way at that critical time.

Regarding Jeffers’ former girlfriend, Meagan Martinez, whom he described as a “pivotal witness”, the CJ asked them to consider how she could have known that Manderson was shot in Maliwinas Way. He noted that Brian O’Neill, QC, acting for Jeffers, had suggested that she had fabricated the whole thing “for some reason known only to her”, and pointed out that the defence’s depiction of her as “a woman of fury” had not been put to her when she was in the witness box so she could respond to it.

Rita Martinez had given evidence in court that Jeffers was not at her apartment that night, as her niece Meagan has described in her testimony. But the jury had heard that she had given several statement to the police and in one of those she had said that he was. If this undermined her credibility then they could reject her evidence but they could not simply substitute that statement for the evidence before them, the chief justice explained.

The jury was asked what proper conclusion they could draw from the fact that Jeffers did not give any evidence in his own defence. O’Neill had suggested that they should not believe Meagan Martinez’ account and should reject her evidence, but the CJ said the jury may ask why the defendant did not go into the witness box to give his own explanation. He said that they had been told that Jeffers was visiting a friend that night in the area, but they had not been presented with any evidence to support this.

However, the chief justice told them that they can only draw a negative inference from the fact that he did not give evidence in his own trial if the prosecution’s case was strong enough that he needed to answer it and also if the only possible reason for him not answering is that he is guilty. They may not find him guilty mainly or only because he did not give evidence.

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Category: Crime

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