April 23, 2021

The Editor Speaks: Child murder not guilty verdict “disappointing” but correct

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Colin Wilsonweb2The Police Commissioner said after the verdict was announced that Devon Anglin has been found not guilty for a second time for the murder of 4-year-old Jeremiah Barnes it was “disappointing”.

I agree with him although I believe it would have been wiser if he had said nothing when asked what he thought of the verdict.

He fell into the media trap. No one expected him to say he was “delighted”.

It sounded like he had mild reproof at the Judge, Charles Quin’s decision, especially as the judge had said after he had delivered his verdict, he acknowledged the pain, suffering and grief of the child’s parents and that they and others in the community would be deeply disappointed that his killer has still not been brought to justice.

When one weigh’s up the evidence that was presented by the Crown at the trial through the work executed by the officers from the Commissioner’s office, there could not possibly have been any other verdict.

From Wikipedia “presumption of innocence”

“The presumption of innocence, sometimes referred to by the Latin expression Ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat (the burden of proof is on the one who declares, not on one who denies), is the principle that one is considered innocent unless proven guilty. In many nations, presumption of innocence is a legal right of the accused in a criminal trial, and it is also regarded as an international human right under the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 11. The burden of proof is thus on the prosecution, which has to collect and present enough compelling evidence to convince the trier of fact, who is restrained and ordered by law to consider only actual evidence and testimony that is legally admissible, and in most cases lawfully obtained, that the accused is guilty beyond reasonable doubt. If reasonable doubt remains, the accused is to be acquitted.”

The identity of the gunman who killed the young boy by a wound to the head as he sat in the back seat of the family’s car at Hell Gas Station in West Bay, was not clear.

It was clear there were many inconsistencies in the evidence given by the boy’s parents, Andy and Dorlisa Barnes. The bullet was meant for Andy Barnes.

Although they were adamant the boy’s killer was Devon Anglin their various statements to the police were not conclusive and they did not corroborate each other. There were differences in their accounts of events that night and Andy Barnes’ description of the gunman’s clothes was wrong. He also said he had seen Anglin in the car in which the gunman had arrived on the scene. Later he recanted it.
Also, the identification was made in very difficult circumstances.

Then there was the main question regarding the mask the gunman wore.

The Barnes’ had said the gunman was wearing a bandana and they had seen his face before he pulled it up. They had recognised it was Anglin because they knew him well. Especially as Andy Barnes and Devon Anglin belonged to different gangs and they immediately recognised his distinctive eyes and gait.

A CCTV expert seemed to confirm the gunman had been wearing a cloth bandana of some sort. But Judge Quin said he had watched the footage, and to the layman it looked as if the gunman was wearing a full face mask.

This corroborated the third witness who said the gunman was wearing a Halloween mask which covered the whole of his face. This witness was the Hell gas station attendant, Carlos Ebanks, who said when he first saw it he thought it was a prank as it looked like a Halloween mask. Because of the mask he could not see any features or even determine if the gunman was a man or a woman.

The judge said Ebanks had been in a better position than either Andy or Dorlisa Barnes to see the gunman and had seen the whole incident.

The defence had argued because of the bad blood between Anglin and Barnes it was a deeply held expectation that if Andy Barnes was harmed, it would be at the hands of Devon Anglin.

Then there was doubt on the gunshot residue evidence on clothes worn by Anglin and in the car presented by the crown that appeared to show he was the one who had driven the vehicle used by the gunman. Two experts found there was a significant chance of innocent contamination from the armed police officers.

All the other evidence presented by the crown Justice Quin discounted on the grounds it was “tenuous, inherently weak and not supportive of the prosecution’s case”.

The judge also noted the police law amendment to allow the court to draw adverse inference if a defendant did not take the witness stand, as in this case, could not be taken into account. It had not been passed at the time of this crime.

Yes it was a disappointing conclusion but it was the correct one.

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