Witness Tells Court Of American Sailor's Shooting


Tribune Staff Reporter


A JURY heard on Friday from a witness of how an American sailor's night out on the town ended with him being fatally shot during an attempt to prevent a mugging.

Sean William Cannon, a first mate aboard the Liberty Chipper sailboat, was called to the witness stand to give evidence concerning the May 13, 2013 murder of Kyle Bruner, who was shot a few feet away from the Paradise Island Bridge.

Bruner, an American sailor who had also been working as first mate on the Liberty Chipper that was docked at Nassau at the time, was shot in the neck trying to help two women who were being mugged by two armed men early on a Sunday morning.

Leo Bethel, 21, Craig Johnson, 22, Anton Bastian, 21, Jamaal Dorfevil, 30, and Marcellus Williams, 23, are alleged to have murdered Bruner.

They are also alleged to have accosted two women while armed with a firearm, robbing one of $150 cash and her $3,000 handbag and the other of cash, a handbag and an iPhone.

In Friday’s proceedings before Justice Indra Charles, Mr Cannon told prosecutor Ambrose Armbrister that the boat he and Bruner were on had been docked at the Nassau Yacht Haven on the night of May 12, 2013.

"Where were you shortly after 3am on May 13, 2013?" the prosecutor asked.

"Kyle and I walked to the Hammerheads bar" the jury heard from the witness.

"What was your reason for going there?" Mr Armbrister asked.

"We were going to hang out and have a couple of drinks," Mr Cannon said, adding that they had Kalik beers.

"How many beers?" the prosecutor asked.

"I don't recall exactly, I'd say about three," Mr Cannon said.

Mr Armbrister asked Mr Cannon if he and Bruner returned to the sailboat after the drinks. Mr Cannon said they did not.

"We met a couple of people, two females and a male, Hayley, Ben and the other female's name I don't recall," he said, adding that from Hammerheads the five of them went to Double D's restaurant in two vehicles.

"Myself and Kyle went with the two females and Ben rode in his own car," the jury heard.

Mr Cannon said he and Bruner were in the back seat of the Honda driven by the female whose name he could not recall.

"Did any of you reach Double D's?" the prosecutor asked. Mr Cannon said they did not and began to explain why.

"We drove off towards Double D's and parked the car down the street, around the corner from Double D's. We got out and started walking to Double D's and that's when two males approached," the jury heard.

"What happened then?" the prosecutor asked.

"i heard some yelling, screaming of some sort, and when I turned around, I saw Hayley and one of the males running off and I saw Kyle struggling with the other male. It looked like they were struggling over a bag but Kyle shoved the male he struggled with and the male, as he got shoved against the vehicle, he pulled out a handgun and shot Kyle," Mr Cannon said.

"How near were you to them during their struggle?" the prosecutor asked.

"I'd estimate about 10 feet," the witness said, adding that "I saw his face pretty well."

"How much of his face did you see?" Mr Armbrister asked.

"Enough to recognise him if I saw him the next time" Mr Cannon said.

"What were the lighting conditions like?" the prosecutor asked.

Mr Cannon said there were street lights on the side where they were parked and side lights attached to the businesses on that strip. He said the shooter was about six feet tall and of a slender build.

"After the person fired that gun, what did he do?' the prosecutor asked.

Mr Cannon said the shooter fled while "Kyle was unresponsive and not moving around".

Mr Cannon said he then ran to find someone with a phone to get help.

Mr Armbrister asked the witness if he ever saw the shooter after that night. He replied he attended an identification parade two days later where he picked out the person wearing no.4 as the shooter he recognised.

Johnson and Bastian were asked to stand where they were in the prisoner's dock and Cannon pointed to Johnson as the individual wearing no.4 in the line up.

In cross-examination, Johnson's lawyer, Nathan Smith, asked the witness if they went to Hammerheads immediately after leaving their sailboat.

"No, we left Liberty Chipper around midnight and we walked over to Paradise Island to see the aquarium for a couple hours before walking back to the boat for some money" Mr Cannon said.

"And you said you had about three beers?" the lawyer asked.

"Yes, I believe it was Kalik Lite," the witness said.

"These were rounds or individual drinks?" Mr Smith probed.

"I'm not sure but Kyle might have had three drinks as well," Mr Cannon said.

Mr Smith asked the witness if he were ahead of the others once they parked en route to Double D's.

Mr Cannon said he was, "by about 10 feet".

"I'm going to suggest you are mistaken when you say you saw the two struggling over a bag," Mr Smith put to the witness.

Mr Cannon said: "I don't believe so."

Mr Smith asked for the witnesses' police statement to be shown to him and on reading the document, Mr Cannon said it did not have him saying what they were struggling over "but I said I believed it was over a bag".

"When did you first became aware a firearm was present?" the lawyer probed.

"It was as Kyle was shoving the other male," Mr Cannon said.

"So it wasn't produced until Kyle shoved him?" Mr Smith asked. The witness said yes.

"Did you hear any dialogue other than the scream?" the lawyer asked. Mr Cannon said he did not.

"I'm going to suggest to you that you were mistaken when you said you saw Craig Johnson shoot Kyle Bruner. In fact it was another male you saw," the lawyer put to the witness.

"I don't see how that can be possible," Mr Cannon said.

"Have you ever mistaken anyone for someone else before?" Mr Smith asked. Mr Cannon said yes.

Ian Cargill represents Bethel while Roberto Reckley, Sonia Timothy and Walton Bain represent Bastian, Dorfevil and Williams.

The trial resumes on Tuesday.

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