Trial hangs on witness

| 13/08/2014

(CNS): Raziel Jeffers, who is on trial for murder in the shooting death of numbers man Marcos Duran, offered no evidence in his defence and did not take the stand. In the closing arguments Tuesday, Director of Prosecutions Cheryll Richards, QC, asked the jury whether they found the crown's key witness, Meagan Martinez,to be truthful. "Do you believe her?" she asked, which is the crux of the trial. Richard said she was a troubled teenager who was now facing her past. Jeffers' defence said she was dishonest, a liar and an unreliable witness.

Jeffers is accused of masterminding the robbery of Duran and arming his Birch Tree Hill gang 'soldiers' for the hold-up on Maliwinas Way in West Bay in March 2010. The crown contends that because of the nature of the crime and the use of lethal barrelled weapons, the death of the numbers man was a probable consequence and he is guilty of murder but the jury can also consider the alternative sentence of manslaughter. The prosecution's case depends heavily on Martinez' testimony.

Richards said the jury could have no doubts that this was a young lady who had "walked on the wrong side of the tracks" but asked, "Is she still there or has she turned her life around?"

The DPP pointed out to the 11 women and one man on the jury that there was supportive evidence for her narrative, which she says was told to her by the defendant while they were in a relationship. This ncluded cell site and phone evidence that Martinez could have had no influence over and could not have known, forensic evidence which places Jordan Manderson at the scene, and the witness statements of her cousin, who had driven her to collect Jeffers after the incident.

Richards said she had been the perfect confidant for Jeffers, who did not think that she would ever had had the courage to come forward.  In fact, Martinez had said that he had threatened her that she was a party to the offence. She had been honest and forthright about her past and "had made no attempt to conceal who she is or who she was", the DPP said.

The defence pointed out that Manderson had been tried and acquitted of the murder, and that none off the other young men alleged to be involved had ever been tried in the matter.

Painting  Martinez as a manipulative liar, Brian O'Neill, QC, said that even if her account was true and the jury believed that she was faithfully recounting what the defendant had said to her, they could still not find him guilty of murder.

He pointed out that the plan was to frighten the numbers man, not to hurt him; that there was no evidence that the plan was to use a real and loaded weapon; that there was no evidence that Jeffers knew there was a second gun; and that the source of the .22 caliber gun involved had not been proven.

O'Neill also noted that no one had said that masks were worn at Jeffers' suggestion, or that he had supplied the masks. Critically, he was not present at the time of the murder and had not even known what had happened until the next day. On Martinez evidence he had been agitated and regretful, saying "the poor numbers man" had been killed.

The defence counsel maintained that the death of Duran was not a "probable consequence" of the robbery, noting that many robberies take place without ending in the death of someone. He said the plan had been to frighten him, and the fact that one of those recruited to carry out the robbery would bring a loaded weapon and use it was "outside anyone's contemplation".

If the jury found that Jeffers was culpable in the killing, he submitted that they should find him guilty of manslaughter and not the more serious crime of murder. However, he again suggested that the evidence of. Martinez had been discredited and that the defendant was guilty of neither charge.

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