By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
A JURY yesterday listened to three hours of closing arguments from Crown and defence counsel on whether two accused men were the shooters behind the gruesome execution of three persons, including a woman due to give birth to a baby boy.
The 12-member panel is expected to decide the fate of Shawn Knowles and Timothy Saunders in deliberations today, following more than two weeks of evidence concerning the July 30, 2011, murders of Edward Braynen, Chackara Rahming and Erica Ward. Ward was eight months pregnant at the time.
The Crown alleges that the murders were in retaliation for the July 12, 2011 murders of Kevin Forbes and Alwayne Leslie at a Haitian village off Montgomery Avenue.
Ward was pregnant with the child of Serrano Adderley, the 30-year-old man charged with the deaths of Forbes and Leslie. Knowles is the nephew of Forbes.
The jurors will deliberate after Senior Justice Stephen Isaacs’ summation of the case.
Lawyers for the accused men, Romona Farquharson-Seymour and Lennox Coleby, told the jury yesterday that the police had not done their due diligence in bringing the correct suspects to trial.
Mrs Farquharson-Seymour said there was no evidence - fingerprint, footprint impression or DNA - linking Knowles to the scene of the killings.
She said the police’s account of Knowles stashing two shotguns in bushes on Cowpen Road could not be believed as the blue canvas the guns were reportedly wrapped in had not been exhibited in court or analysed for prints or DNA. She also noted that with the discrepancies with the handling of the weapons, one had to question whether the firearms presented in court were the same ones that were allegedly recovered by police on July 31, 2011.
Knowles’ lawyer also said detectives’ accounts of her client’s injuries in police custody did not make sense. She said they heard the testimony of the prison physician Dr Heastings Johnson who read the medical report of her client and noted the complaints made.
Speaking to the alleged caution statement of the co-accused, the lawyer said it contained nothing damning about Knowles nor did it identify him as harming anyone.
Mr Coleby, in his address, told the jury that the Crown would want them to believe that two men - who only knew each other in passing but lived and associated with the victims in the same village - were responsible for the crimes.
Saunders’ alleged statement to police said both men walked to the apartment, shot the door open and that Knowles fatally shot the trio.
However, Mr Coleby said the Crown had not called a witness who gave a statement of hearing shots and seeing a car speeding off from the apartment.
Mr Coleby said in ignoring this, the police and Crown also failed to consider that the second victim who died with Knowles’ uncle weeks before was a Jamaican.
The lawyer suggested that the slayings were done by the family of Leslie who wanted to exact revenge on Adderley and that the Crown was well aware of this.
Trial prosecutor Cordell Frazier invited the jury to return guilty verdicts for both accused men based on the evidence presented to them.
She argued that DNA evidence was not needed for the firearm, which police saw Knowles placed in the bushes.
She also informed the jury that a firearms examiner said that the spent shells found at the crime scene matched the ones found in the shotguns Knowles had stashed prior to his arrest.
Ms Frazier said Knowles and Saunders’ allegations of police brutality were fabrications.
She argued her scepticism that police would beat someone to give a statement that did not have him confessing to anything if Saunders’ claims were to be believed.
She also said that Saunders had been aware of what would happen a week in advance of the incident and had gone along with Knowles, who sought to exact revenge for almost being killed by Ward’s boyfriend.
She said this was a fact that defence counsel was attempting to distract them from.
The summation of the case is scheduled to begin at 10am.