A defence attorney on Monday has asserted that an alleged top gangster of the One faction of the Clansman gang, Jason Brown, alias ‘City Puss’, should be freed, as two main witnesses failed to positively identify the accused man.
The suggestion was made by attorney Dianna Mitchell who represents Brown, one of the 29 defendants still on trial in the Home Circuit Court in downtown Kingston.
Last week, four of the original 33 charged were freed of charges last Thursday after prosecutors conceded that they had no evidence against them.
The hearing of no-case submissions for the remaining accused resumed on Monday, with defence attorneys hammering holes into the prosecution’s case against the alleged gangsters.
Some of the attorneys described the evidence presented by the prosecution and their witnesses as being ‘vague’, while others remained adamant that the testimonies were not credible.
During her submissions, Mitchell contended that the two former gangsters-turned-state witnesses — a self-styled former don and a man who claimed to have been Bryan’s driver and the gang’s banker — did not physically know Brown, alias City Puss.
To support her position, she pointed to testimonies from the former gangsters that they only knew a voice, said to be that of Brown’s, from speaking to him on cell phones.
But she said that the main witnesses had not pointed out Brown in court during the course of the prosecution’s marshalling of evidence.
A retired police inspector had testified that Brown was incarcerated at the Horizon Remand Centre in St Andrew after he was convicted for an unrelated murder in 2012.
But the officer said that from behind bars, Brown was giving orders for extortion against Spanish Town business people, and ordering murders.
The prosecution witness, a self-styled don, had testified too, that Brown was ordering murders from behind bars and threatening persons for extortion money.
Mitchell, however, took issue with the evidence presented by the former gangster against her client.
To prove her point, she referred to the witness’ testimony regarding gangsters torching two offices of a loan agency in Spanish Town and Old Harbour.
The witness said the former gangster testified that Brown had called the owner of the company, urging him (the owner) to cooperate with the demands of the criminal organisation.
She indicated that it appeared that was the reason for the arson attack.
The attorney noted that the same witness testified that a gangster he called ‘Frazzle’ played a major role in the arson attack on those establishments.
She noted, however, that ‘Frazzle’ died.
Still, she claimed that there was no evidence presented by the prosecution or the witness that anyone by the name of ‘Frazzle’ existed.
Mitchell argued that this was proof that the witness was not credible, and there was no evidence presented to suggest that Brown had, in fact, ordered the torching of the offices or was a party to the commissioning of that crime.
In another no-case submission on the day, attorney Kamesha Mittoo called for Chief Justice Brian Sykes to free her client Donovan Richards due to lack of evidence.
She noted that the prosecution has already dropped one of the counts on the indictment against her client.
She argued that the prosecution should go a step further, as the counts relative to Richard being part of a criminal organisation and collecting extortion have not been proven.
To support her point, Mittoo said one of two former gangsters had testified that he collected extortion money from Richards at an area called Top Banks.
The witness had testified that those monies were collected through extortion of bus, taxi operators and business owners in Spanish Town.
According to Mittoo, the prosecution did not present any evidence to substantiate those claims of extortion, because there were no victims of extortion who testified during the ongoing trial.
She said the testimony of the witness alone made the evidence “vague”.
Likewise, attorney Roxane Smith who represents defendant Jahzeel Blake, said the evidence of the main witnesses against her client was not credible.
In noting that Blake has already been freed of four of the eight counts on the indictment that he was charged under, Smith pleaded with Sykes to also free her client of the remaining charges.
Among those charges, she said he should be acquitted of was the double murder of Jermaine Bryan and Cedella Walder, which was committed in the informal community of ‘New Nursery’ or ‘Fisheries’ in Spanish Town on September 8, 2017.
The attorney said the witnesses called by the prosecution presented no evidence to prove that Blake was involved in the murder of the couple or participated in the subsequent torching of the couple’s home.
Smith said the witnesses had testified that her client was present at the location of the murder-arson attack.
However, she said there was no other evidence to substantiate claims that Blake was actually present at the scene.
While the arguments by the defence attorneys went on throughout the day, the trial judge took issue with some claims being made.
Defence attorney Zara Lewis, who represents accused Roel Taylor, argued that there was no evidence to suggest that a firearm found at a furniture shop he owned actually belonged to him.
Taylor is charged with illegal possession of firearm and illegal possession of ammunition under the indictment.
A police officer had testified last year that an AK-47 rifle was found hidden in a stack of boards at Taylor’s furniture shop on Jones Avenue in Spanish Town.
The court was told that the shop was located a short distance away from Taylor’s house. It was also said that Taylor was the cousin of Andre ‘Blackman’ Bryan, the alleged leader of the One Don faction of the Clansman gang.
But in her no-case submission, Lewis contended that the prosecution had not made out its case that the firearm belonged to him, as other persons were at the furniture shop.
But Sykes interjected, by stating that her arguments were irrelevant because Taylor had a key to the furniture shop.
Meanwhile, attorney Courtney Rowe who represents defendant Marco Miller, alias ‘Ezzy’, also claimed that the prosecution failed to present sufficient evidence to link his client to a double murder in the community of Rivoli in Spanish Town, St Catherine.
According to prior testimony at the trial, that incident happened sometime after midnight in March 2017. The deceased men were from Denham Town in Kingston and were buried in Rivoli by the gangsters who murdered them.
Rowe argued that the prosecution witness, a former self-styled don, only presented evidence that Miller was at the location, at a netball court, at the time the murders were committed.
The attorney said the witness never said Miller did anything at the time the murders occurred.
Rowe suggested that Miller could have been at the netball court for multiple reasons, as it was used for training, a shop was nearby and the accused lived in close proximity to the netball court.
The attorney also described as contradictory, the witness’ suggestion that he was close friends with Miller.
Rowe pointed out that the witness had also testified that he would never kill the sole female defendant, Stephanie ‘Mumma’ Christie, because they were close friends.
But Rowe said that the same witness testified that while he and Miller were friends, he (the witness) helped the alleged gangsters search for Miller to kill him.
But Sykes then intervened.
“So what strange about that?” the judge quizzed.
“The scripture tells us that Judas betrayed Jesus for money, Joseph brothers left him in a pit, brothers kill brothers, parents kill children. So I don’t see anything strange about that,” quipped Sykes.
In response, Rowe said he understood the judge’s point, but he maintained that the witness’ testimony was contradicting in relation to his friendship with Miller.
The 29 accused are being tried under the Criminal Justice (Suppression of Criminal Organisations Act), 2014, better known as the anti-gang legislation, on an indictment containing several counts.
Interestingly, six of the 25 counts under which the gangsters were charged, were removed by the prosecution because of lack of evidence.
Overall, the accused were charged with multiple other offences, including being part of a criminal organisation, illegal possession of firearm, illegal possession of ammunition, facilitating conspiracy to murder, and facilitating arson.
The offences were allegedly committed between January 1, 2015, and June 30, 2019, in St Catherine.