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Officer Who Helped Detain Triple Murder Suspect Testifies

By LAMECH JOHNSON

Tribune Staff Reporter

ljohnson@tribunemedia.net

A JURY heard testimony yesterday from a police officer who was a part of a special operation instrumental in the arrest of a suspect wanted for questioning in a triple murder.

Sergeant Patrick Johnson, of the Special Tactics and Internal Security Division, testified of his role in the investigation into the July 30, 2011, deaths of Edward Braynen, Chackara Rahming and Erica Ward, who was eight months pregnant at the time.

He said that on July 31, 2011, he and a special team of police officers performed a stakeout in bushes in the Cowpen Road area around 7pm.

“We concealed ourselves in bushes just across from a car wash and observed a dark male walking across the road into the bush line with an item wrapped in a blue canvas,” Sgt Johnson said.

The officer said the man placed the item under a tree before proceeding to a house.

It was then that officers revealed themselves to the man and questioned his identity.

“Shawn Knowles gave his name and we cautioned him that he was wanted for questioning with reference to murder,” the witness said.

“He said ‘Officer I don’t know what you talking about’,” Sgt Johnson continued.

Officers went to the site where the suspect had allegedly placed items under a tree, which turned out to be two black Maverick shotguns and seven live shotgun shells.

Sgt Johnson said the suspect denied that the items were his, however police arrested Knowles for possession of the illegal weapons and ammunition.

Knowles, 43, and Timothy Saunders, 36, are standing trial before Acting Chief Justice Stephen Isaacs for the triple murder. They have denied the charges.

It is alleged that the men entered the victims’ Montgomery Avenue apartment and fatally shot Braynen, Chackara and Ward.

However, they were not charged with the death of Ward’s unborn baby because a foetus under Bahamian law is not considered a person.

Knowles and Saunders are respectively represented by Romona Farquharson-Seymour and Lennox Coleby.

Cordell Frazier and Randolph Dames are prosecuting the case.

During yesterday’s hearing, Knowles’ lawyer challenged Sgt Johnson on his account of her client’s arrest.

“How far into the bushes did this man go?” Mrs Farquharson-Seymour asked.

Using the courtroom as a demonstration, the officer pointed to the opposite walls, a distance that was estimated to be 60 feet.

“Were street lights on by 7pm?” the lawyer asked. The officer said the sun was still up.

“Did you carry any sort of camera equipment to record what was happening?” Mrs Farquharson-Seymour asked.

Sgt Johnson said there was no recording.

Mrs Farquharson-Seymour asked the officer if his report contained any mentioned of firearms. Sgt Johnson claimed it did.

When she put her client’s detention record to the witness, Sgt Johnson acknowledged there was no entry of Knowles being arrested concerning firearms even though he provided the information to his colleague when the suspect was booked at the Carmichael Road police station.

The lawyer suggested the entry was not there because the stakeout story was false. The officer denied the suggestion.

Mrs Farquharson-Seymour also suggested that the arrest took place in Knowles’ aunt’s house where officers with machine guns and masks allegedly dragged her client out of the house without any warning.

The officer denied this.

The trial continues.

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