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Murder Suspects 'Reported Police Abuse On Admission To Prison'

By LAMECH JOHNSON

Tribune Staff Reporter

ljohnson@tribunemedia.net

TWO murder suspects alleging police brutality at their trial reported abuse on admission to the prison, a Supreme Court jury heard on Friday.

Dr Hastings Johnson was testifying at the murder trial of Shawn Knowles and Timothy Saunders, who are accused of the July 30, 2011, slayings of Edward Braynen, Chackara Rahming and Erica Ward, who was eight months pregnant at the time.

During their trial before Supreme Court (Senior) Justice Stephen Isaacs, lawyers for both suggested to detectives that they had brutalised their clients to confess to crimes they did not commit.

Knowles' lawyer, Romona Farquharson-Seymour, asked Dr Johnson to speak to the report of a physician no longer employed at the Department of Correctional Services.

Dr Johnson said he was familiar with the physician and his handwriting. He then spoke to the contents of the medical report in Knowles' name as he saw them.

The report noted that on the day of Knowles' admission to prison, August 4, 2011, Knowles had complained of being beaten by police and sustaining a broken nose from being gun-butted.

The suspect also said he was stomped on in the chest and claimed police pepper-sprayed his privates.

Though the examining physicians found no abnormal signs, the stitches on the nose did confirm a recent injury and there were traces of blood in the urine.

Mrs Farquharson-Seymour asked the physician if trace blood could be the result of blunt force trauma to the abdomen and groin.

Dr Johnson said it would be common to find blood in urine if this were the case. He did say it could have been the result of an infection but there were no white blood cells or nitrates documented to conclude it is as a UTI (urinary tract infection.

Saunders' lawyer, Lennox Coleby, asked the prison physician if similar complaints of brutality had been made by his client. The physican said yes and that traces of blood had also been found in Saunders' urine.

The lawyer asked if a person could develop a headcase from continuous strikes to the head. Dr Johnson said this was possible but also noted that migranes could be the result of inflammation.

Mr Coleby also asked the physician if he expected the will of a person to be diminished after being suffocated with a plastic bag. Dr Johnson said this action could induce an individual to do or say things they would not ordinarily do.

When cross-examined by prosecutor Cordell Frazier, Dr Johnson was asked if there was a note of Saunders complaining of being suffocated by police. The physician said no and agreed that aside from the stitches to the nose, the exam was unremarkable concerning the presence of injuries.

As regards to Saunders, Frazier asked the physician if the medicine prescribed post-examination were consistent with treatment for UTIs. Dr Johnson said yes.

It is alleged that Knowles, 43, and Saunders, 36, entered the victims’ Montgomery Avenue apartment that afternoon and fatally shot them.

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

Both men have denied the charges.

The trial resumes on Monday.

Comments

John 2 years, 9 months ago

A MAJOR CAUSE FOR CONCERN: as the number of murder suspects continue to increase at The Department of Corrections along with the number of persons being sentenced for murder there should be major cause for concern about the security at this institution and the safety of the average citizen in this country, New Providence especially. The recent escape of a murder convict confirms this is real. There has been close to 1,000 murders in the Bahamas (if not more) and while the detection rate and the number of convictions is under 50 percent and 30% respectively, there is a growing prison population of murderers and murder suspects. The number of murders for this year (around 17) confirms that the number is not yet on a dramatic decrease. Persons facing 40 years to life imprisonment has little to lose (in their minds) and as their numbers increase the probability of escape (even en masse), especially when they may have to be transported through the city from time to time. There is a great need for forward planning especially as the time spent in prison increases, these convicts become more angry and more desperate .

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