'Armed Robbery Motive In Murder Case'


Tribune Freeport Reporter


A LEAD police investigator said armed robbery was the motive behind the home invasion that occurred in Deadman’s Reef where a couple were shot to death in September 2015, the Supreme Court heard on Wednesday.

Det Sgt 772 Lorenzo Johnson said co-accused Paul Belizaire admitted during a record of interview that he went to the couple’s home with others to get money and cocaine, but found neither.

Det Sgt Johnson is the final witness the prosecution called to give evidence in the armed robbery and murder trial of three men – Belizaire, Devaughn Hall, and Kevin Dames – accused of the shooting deaths of Barry and Sheena Johnson, of Grand Bahama, and allegedly robbing them of their truck and a set of keys.

During a contentious cross-examination, the detective indicated he did an “excellent job” in gathering evidence for the case.

The witness said he has been on the police force for 30 years and has been attached to the Serious Crimes Section for several years.

“When you do your investigations, you do it prudently and with due diligence?” asked Carlson Shurland, who is representing Dames. “Yes,” replied Det Sgt Johnson.

Mr Shurland continued: “You did the best you could with the investigation?” “Yes,” Det Sgt Johnson said.

Jethlyn Burrows, counsel for Hall, asked the officer when he charged her client on September 19, whether during the investigation he had access to the accused’s antecedents. Det Sgt Johnson said he did.

Mr Burrows asked: “What was the result of the check and your request?”

Det Sgt Johnson replied Hall had not been convicted of any criminal offences.

Geoffrey Farquharson, counsel for Belizaire, asked the investigator if he had beaten any of the three accused men. “No,” Det Sgt Johnson answered.

“Do you know if you lie in a murder trial, you can go to prison for life?” asked Mr Farquharson. Det Sgt Johnson said he did not know what the sentence was for such an offence.

Mr Farquharson then questioned the witness about his rank and promotions through the police force. The officer said he had been a constable for 17 years, a corporal for three years, and has spent 10 years as a sergeant.

Mr Farquharson asked the lead investigator why he hadn’t been promoted from the rank of sergeant after so many years. Det Sgt Johnson said there was no reason and there was nothing wrong with him being a sergeant for ten years.

“I do an excellent job,” the witness said.

“You have not been promoted because you do not have the right stuff; you have limited skills and conduct a shoddy investigation,” the attorney suggested. “You are not qualified for promotion.”

“You don’t know the police system, you have no idea,” replied Det Sgt Johnson.

Both men became combative during the line of questioning and Justice Estelle Gray-Evans intervened, telling Mr Farquharson not to raise his voice while putting questions to the witness, and the witness to give answers only to the questions put to him.

Mr Farquharson asked Det Sgt Johnson what was the motive for the crime. The witness indicated that armed robbery was the motive. “Your client (Belizaire) told me he went to get the money; that he went to rob the people who live there of money in the middle of the night,” Det Sgt Johnson said.

“In the course of the investigation, was there any money found in the house?” asked Mr Farquharson.

“Your client said no money was found,” Det Sgt Johnson said.

When asked about the record of interview he had conducted with Belizaire, the officer said the co-accused stated that no cash or cocaine was found in the house. “So the motive that was there disappeared?” Mr Farquharson asked.

However, the officer indicated there was money in the victim’s purse, which he gave to the deceased’s sister.

When Mr Farquharson asked the witness why wasn’t that mentioned in his police report on October 28, 2015, Det Sgt Johnson said he had written it down in the police file.

The trial continues.

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