2nd witness alleges confession

| 25/11/2014

(CNS): A woman who had worked as a helper in a notorious yard in West Bay told the court repeatedly Monday that Leonard Antonio Ebanks had confessed to her that he had killed a white man by hitting him twice on the head with a block because he was homosexual and owed him a $1,000. The woman, who is in the witness protection programme and cannot be named, revealed that she had later discovered that the man was 40-year-old Swiss banker, Frederic Bise, whose body was found in February 2008 in the back of his own burned out car. Despite rigorous cross-examination by the defence attorney, the woman stuck to her story that Ebanks had confessed to the murder.

As the crown called the woman as a key witness to support its case that Ebanks, along with Chad Anglin, had killed Bise in the early morning hours of 8 February 2008, the court also heard that she had told police that Ebanks had confessed to the murder of Tyrone Burrell.

Burrell had been shot and killed in the yard where the woman had lived and worked as a helper in September 2010. Ebanks was convicted of that murder a year later in September 2011 and is currently serving a life sentence, the jury heard. The witness said that after that killing and Ebanks’ confession over the white man, she had gone to the police to “talk what she know”.

She told the court she was afraid and believed “he was born a killer and a wrong doer". She said, "All I was trying to do was get out of that yard before my life go too.” 

After telling the police about the confession regarding the Burrell murder, the police placed the woman in witness protection overseas with an allowance of $400 per month. After she signed the agreement she also told the police that Ebanks had confessed to killing Bise.

Defence attorney Courtenay Griffiths QC pointed out that she had received over $53,000 from the Cayman public purse as a protected witness over the last four years, as he implied she was making up the confession in order to get the money. The woman denied that and said she had volunteered to be a witness and insisted that Ebanks had made the confession on several occasions.

She told the court that she had met Ebanks, whom she knew as Tonio and Mad Max, at the house in Birch Tree Hill where she was a helper as he came to the location frequently. She confirmed that the house was where both Damion Ming and Tyrone Burrell were killed in gang related shootings and that drugs were being sold at the property. Despite being a staunch Christian and aware of the goings on there, she said she had come to Cayman to work and until she could get a permit to go elsewhere she had to stay.

She said she knew Tonio was a drug addict who used coke but he was very friendly and talkative. The witness said it was several weeks after she met him that he told her about killing the white man. She said he spoke about the murder to her several times and said, “One time he went to the white man’s house and hit him with block and the man dead and drove him around West Bay …”

She said he told her that he had brought the man’s body to the house where she worked but he had been told to take the body away, so he took the car back to Bise’s house “and set the vehicle afire with the man in it”.

At first, she said, she did not say anything about the confession as she was not completely convinced he was telling the truth and she was unaware of the murder at the time. But after he told her he had killed Burrell as well, she went to the police about both confessions, she said. 

Although Griffiths queried some discrepancies in the woman’s statements over the timeline of the confessions, the woman did not waver from her position and repeatedly stated that Tonio had told her he had hit the white man twice on the head with a block and killed him “because he was a faggot and he owed him 1,000 Cayman Islands dollars”.

Ebanks has denied killing Bise and claims that the two women who told police that he confessed to them are lying and are being paid by the police to give evidence against him. The crown’s case against him continues this week before a jury with Justice Charles Quin presiding in Grand Court One.

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