September 28, 2020

MURDER TRIAL ENDS: Verdict back Wednesday Court hears

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Grand Court Justice Howard Cooke on Friday closed the murder trial of Devon Anglin, promising a Wednesday verdict after defence lawyers declined to call any witnesses, arguing that prosecution testimony had been “wholly unreliable”.

Defence counsel John Ryder, QC, told the court that Andy Barnes and Dorlissa Ebanks-Barnes, chief witnesses against Mr Anglin, had only identified him “based on their own assumptions” about the 15 February shooting to death of their son, 4-year-old Jeremiah Barnes at the Hell Road Esso station in West Bay.

Mr Anglin, whose trial opened on 12 August, is charged with murder and four other counts, including attempted murder, possession of a firearm and threatening violence.

Mr Ryder told the court that prosecutors had relied on the identification of the Hell Road assailant by Mr and Mrs Barnes, but had acknowledged that other evidence was, by itself, insufficient to gain a conviction.

“The crown concedes that the supporting evidence cannot warrant a conviction, so there must be some sort of evidence of a visual identification,” he said, questioning prosecution references to the clothing and car allegedly used by Mr Anglin in the assault, gunshot residue found by investigators, CCTV footage, police statements and testimony from secondary witnesses.

He pointed to inconsistencies in the main testimony, saying Mr Barnes had changed his story three times, twice in official police statements and again in the courtroom.

Mrs Barnes, he said, in spite of CCTV footage and testimony from independent witnesses, had claimed to see Mr Anglin’s face, fully exposed, without a mask and wearing a handkerchief around his neck.

“This must undermine the testimony of Mr Barnes because she said he was not doing anything with a mask and his face was not concealed, that she never saw anything on his face.”

Mr Barnes had earlier testified that he “could see perfectly clearly it was Devon Anglin”, and that he had pulled a bandana over his nose, concealing his face, but that he knew him from his walk and crossed eye.

He described Mr Anglin’s clothing at the time of the assault, saying it was the same he had worn earlier during an encounter with Mr Barnes at
Batabano Plaza.

Both witnesses claimed that Mr Anglin was carrying a gun in his right hand when he approached their Chevrolet Malibu at the petrol pumps about 8:00pm.

Saying that testimony contradicted that of attendant Carlos Ebanks, whom Mr Ryder described as “totally independent”, he quoted the employee’s testimony that he had seen the gunmen before anyone else.

“From the start he was masked and there was no fiddling” with the bandana, Mr Ryder repeated. “He said he thought it was a prank, so he paid no attention.

“When Andy and Dorlissa Barnes first see the gunman,” Mr Ryder said, “he has a gun, but Mr Ebanks sees him before that, and says he took out the gun and brandished it”.

The inconsistencies only pointed to the Barnes’ assumption that the gunman was Mr Anglin, Mr Ryder said, bolstered by the earlier incident at Batabano Plaza.

“And there is a risk that this assumption is based on the antecedent antipathy,” he said, referring to the long-simmering resentment between the two.

The gunman’s clothing was not the same that Mr Anglin had worn at Batabano, the gunshot residue did not necessarily come from the Esso station and the occupants of the getaway car did not necessarily include Mr Anglin. Nor was it certain that the car was even the same one named in evidence.

“Our submission is that the testimony of these witnesses,” Mr Ryder said, referring to the Barneses and two others, “is self-contradictory, inconsistent and, in each instance, wholly unreliable. The quality of evidence is such that it has absolutely no value at all. No reasonable tribunal of fact could reasonably convict.”

 

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