By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
A WOMAN’S defence at trial that a drug trafficker did not need to rob and murder a web shop manager for money was not completely sold on a jury yesterday, which returned unanimous guilty verdicts on charges of robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery.
However, the jury returned a hung verdict of 7-5 on the murder charge, which is not acceptable in law, for Daphne Knowles of Cartwright’s, Long Island. Knowles would have faced the death penalty if convicted of the brutal murder of Andrea Carroll in 2014.
On the remaining charges, where the jury returned 12-0 guilty verdicts, Knowles was informed by Justice Bernard Turner that she will return to the Supreme Court for sentencing, scheduled for September 8.
The 12-member panel returned the verdicts within an hour after being excused to deliberate on three weeks of evidence.
Prior to excusing the jury to deliberate, Justice Turner told the panel that the accused could not be convicted on the weakness of her own case but based on the strength of the prosecution’s case.
On Monday, in a closing address to the jury, prosecutor Cephia Pinder-Moss 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.
Mr 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.
Mr Smith, the prosecutor said, recalled seeing Knowles and a man pull up one evening 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 Mr 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 said there was no dispute that the deceased died 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.
Sonia 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 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.
Ms Timothy 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 Noel Turnquest, boyfriend of the deceased.
“How then are we able to say the money found in joint property of Daphne Knowles belonged to Bowe’s 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.
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.