By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
A JURY yesterday listened to two hours of closing arguments from Crown and defence counsel about whether a woman, motivated by jealously and revenge, allegedly robbed and killed a web shop employee in Deadman’s Cay, Long Island.
The 12-member panel is expected to decide the fate of 49-year-old Daphne Knowles following more than two weeks of evidence concerning the 2014 slaying of Andrea Carroll.
Knowles, of Cartwright’s, Long Island, is on trial before Justice Bernard Turner on murder, robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery charges.
Knowles is alleged to have killed Carroll between November 28 and 29, 2014.
It is further alleged that Knowles conspired with others to commit robbery and actually robbed Carroll of cash belonging to Bowe’s Web Games Ltd.
The accused, who denies the allegations, is defended by attorney Sonia Timothy. Cephia Pinder-Moss and Basil Cumberbatch are prosecuting the case.
“We the Crown do not have a confession and we do not have witnesses to the actual murder,” Ms Pinder-Moss said yesterday.
“What we do have is circumstantial evidence and circumstantial evidence is a reasonable conclusion drawn from certain facts. This case rises and falls on the evidence of the prosecution’s witnesses.”
The prosecutor told the jury not to be overly concerned with the demeanor of the witnesses.
“Some people can lie without batting an eyelid and others can be nervous when telling the truth,” she said.
The prosecutor said that in order to prove their case of murder, certain elements had to be established.
Ms Pinder-Moss said there was no dispute that the deceased died within a year of the harm inflicted on her and that the harm was unlawful and severe enough, as testified to by pathologist Dr Caryn Sands, to give the deceased cuts, bruises, a broken neck and a broken spinal cord. The prosecutor also urged the jury to remember that Carroll’s hands and legs were tightly bound by an electrical wire and belt respectively, illustrating the intentions of the perpetrator.
“The final element of murder is who did it? We say Daphne Knowles had a bone to pick, something to prove, had to teach a lesson and she had a motive,” the jury heard.
The prosecutor recalled the evidence of key witness Kelson Smith who spoke of his role in the alleged plot created by the accused to rob Carroll of web shop earnings.
Smith was hired by Carroll to work as a security guard a week after Knowles was fired from her position as a sandwich maker for the web shop.
Smith, the prosecutor said, recalled seeing Knowles and a man one evening pull up to the property before leaving when he had spotted them.
Knowles and Carroll were said to have behaved like sisters, “talking, laughing and smoking together.”
Knowles, said Smith, had approached him and allegedly said “we need to rob Andrea” and he was instructed to leave the window open in exchange for a $2,000 cut.
After carrying out his designated task, Knowles allegedly told him that he could get the money anytime he wished and that the murder would be blamed on Carroll’s boyfriend Noel Turnquest.
“You saw him giving his testimony. He said he felt horrible. He told us he did not even go back for the money,” the prosecutor said.
Ms Pinder-Moss also said Rafford Smith, brother of Kelson Smith, affirmed that Daphne Knowles approached them about a plan to rob the web shop manager. However, he did not take part as he was in New Providence attending a funeral.
“Turnquest came and gave evidence that on November 28, 2014 at 8.30pm at the home of Carroll, he was counting the money with her and the total was $68,000. They had sex and he left Ms Carroll’s house at 10pm. However, before he left, he made sure the doors were locked and windows secured,” the prosecutor recalled.
Turnquest, when interviewed by police in January 2015, was able to identify the money belonging to the web shop “because he was familiar with how Carroll stacked the money.”
Vilda Dean, the prosecutor said, was another witness who gave evidence supporting the allegation that Knowles plotted the robbery.
Knowles worked for Carroll for one month making sandwiches until she was fired. The accused, according to the witness, said she did not care that Ms Carroll fired her.
The witness said she eavesdropped on a telephone conversation with Ms Knowles saying that somebody needed to rob Carroll.
Carroll’s college education was also a sore point for Knowles, the jury heard.
“She did not report it because Ms Knowles made it seem like a joke but she (Daphne Knowles) was not kidding,” the prosecutor told the jury.
Ms Timothy, in a closing address for her client, stressed that the Crown’s case was riddled with a number of inconsistencies and lacked substance.
“Kelson Smith claimed that Daphne approached him and his brother and said ‘we need to rob Andrea.’ But the evidence of Rafford Smith was that Daphne Knowles said ‘somebody’ and not ‘we’,” Ms Timothy said.
Ms Timothy also recalled Mr Smith’s evidence of his brother coming to check out the place. However, the lawyer reminded the jury that Rafford Smith said he had only come to pay an outstanding bill and for no other reason.
The lawyer also reminded the jury to recall that the brothers gave conflicting testimony.
“Kelson did not give us the truth. His brother, Rafford, did not give us the truth. The truth is that Andrea Carroll was robbed and killed. And there was a conspiracy but it did not involve Daphne Knowles,” Ms Timothy said.
She also called the evidence of Dean “a recent fabrication to cover up for Kelson Smith.”
Ms Timothy also addressed the evidence of Carroll’s boyfriend and how he observed the way she stacked the proceeds of the web shop in like currency.
She said the jury was able to see for themselves that the money found in Daphne Knowles’ possession was not stacked or kept in an orderly fashion as described by Turnquest.
“How then are we able to say the money found in joint property of Daphne Knowles belonged to Bowes Web Shop? You can go into the jury room with the exhibit and see the stacks of $100 bills in there. That’s not money from gambling. That was money from drug trafficking,” the lawyer stressed.
She urged the jury to recall the evidence of defence witnesses Jomo Campbell that Knowles pleaded guilty to possession of dangerous drugs with intent to supply and proceeds of crime when she was arraigned in connection with this incident.
“She owned up to that offence but she did not commit murder and she did not rob Andrea Carroll,” the lawyer said.
She further urged the jury to recall that the investigator, Cpl Lincoln McKenzie, was asked if there was any fingerprint or DNA evidence connecting her client to the scene of the crime. The investigator said there was not.
Knowles’ defence witness, Stanley Pinder, said the accused was involved in a number of different enterprises and regularly travelled to Panama to restock.
Knowles’ lawyer said her client could not be convicted of the offences, considering the lack of forensic evidence and major inconsistencies with the Crown’s witnesses.
Justice Bernard Turner is expected to summarise the evidence before excusing the jury to deliberate on the verdicts.