By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
A MAN testified yesterday of how accepting a “compliments to the season” Hennessey drink from a banker who hired him to paint his apartment spiraled into a scuffle and stabbing after the banker allegedly made a sexual advance at him.
The trial of 26-year-old Lamar Albury continued in the Supreme Court yesterday afternoon where Albury was asked by Senior Justice Vera Watkins to indicate whether he would remain silent at his trial or elect to give testimony under oath concerning the death of Devince Smith, who was found lifeless in his St Alban’s Drive apartment with 33 stab wounds on December 21, 2015.
The Crown closed its case against Albury last Wednesday with the evidence of forensic pathologist Dr Caryn Sands who testified that the wounds, including a slit throat, were unlikely to have been caused by a painting knife.
“I’ll take the stand,” Albury told the judge when informed of his options.
The Chippingham resident was asked by his lawyer, Michael Hanna, if he knew the deceased.
“Yes,” the accused said. “I met him on a job. I was distributing my number looking for work. I do carpentry and painting.”
“Did he (Smith) have your number?” the lawyer asked. ‘Yes sir…by me dishing out my number,” Albury said.
Mr Hanna then asked the accused about a phone call he received.
“I got a call from Scotia Bank saying they had some dry wall to do (but) when I called back the job was already taken,” the accused said.
Albury’s attorney asked his client about December 19, 2015.
“Did you see Mr Smith on that date?” Mr Hanna asked.
“I received a call from Devince Smith saying he needed a paint job done,” the jury heard from the accused.
Albury said he went to the job around 5pm.
Hanna asked: “How did you get there?”
“The deceased picked me up from my residence,” the accused said.
Albury was asked if he had done previous jobs for Smith at the apartment and he said “yes”.
“And you were satisfied with your pay?” the lawyer then asked.
“Yes, sir,” Albury said.
Albury said during the drive from his Chippingham home to Smith’s apartment, they were conversing.
“He was asking me what my goals are in life, if I have children, if I have a girlfriend,” Albury said.
“At the time did you have a girlfriend?” Mr Hanna asked. “Yes,” the accused said.
“Did you kill Mr Smith?” his lawyer asked.
“No, sir,” the jury heard.
Albury is alleged to have murdered Smith sometime between December 19 and 21, 2015.
Smith’s partially decomposed body was found shortly after 2.30pm on December 21, 2015 at his St Alban’s Drive apartment.
Smith was a sports coach and was employed at Pictet Bank & Trust Ltd. He was also a former president of the New Providence Volleyball Association.
Albury maintained his not guilty plea to the murder charge when the trial began on February 20.
Cordell Frazier and Anya Allen are prosecuting the case for the Crown while Mr Hanna is representing Albury.
On the first day of trial, the jury heard that Albury allegedly confessed to his relatives that he fatally stabbed the banker, who had hired him to do a paint job at his apartment for an upcoming holiday gathering, when the victim allegedly made a sexual advance at him.
The second day of trial, Smith’s housekeeper testified that in the three months she had known Albury, the accused had been to Smith’s apartment on three occasions and on two other occasions, the accused and Smith were seen in the victim’s Jeep drinking.
“You heard your father testify in court,” Mr Hanna asked Albury yesterday.
“I told my father I went to do a job for the deceased. The deceased tried to hold me down and rape me,” Albury claimed.
“He tried to rape you?” his lawyer asked.
Albury said yes, adding that when he resisted, Smith allegedly tried to hit him with a vase in the head.
“He kept constantly trying to hold me down and I used my painter’s tool to defend myself against the deceased,” the accused said.
Mr Hanna asked his client to backtrack his story to their arrival to the apartment.
“We pulled up by his house, went inside, he offered me a cup of Hennessey as compliments to the season. I took it and then he showed me where to paint,” Albury said.
Albury said he was asked to get beer for Smith whom he said was wearing a brown shirt and blue pants.
“When I reached upstairs to bring the beer, he was sitting down against the bed with the sheet over him with his laptop,” the jury heard.
Mr Hanna asked Albury if he had seen Smith undress and the accused said he did not.
“What happened next?” the lawyer asked.
Albury said he placed the beer on the stand and went to do the job he was hired to do, but was called back by Smith.
“I looked back and he tilted the laptop in my direction. When I saw it, I told him ‘this ain’t my type vibe, I don’t like man.’ That’s when he reached out to grab my privates. I stab him once or twice to get away,” the court heard.
“What frame of mind were you in?” Mr Hanna asked.
“I was shocked,” Albury said. “I was in fear for my life. I was traumatised. This never happened to me before and I didn’t know what to say.”
The accused said he washed his face, got his tools, washed off his fingerprints, jumped the wall of the complex, went home and spoke to his father.
“So you told your father and brother you were defending yourself from sexual assault?” Mr Hanna asked. The accused said yes.
Albury was cross-examined by Ms Frazier who asked him how long he had known Smith.
“Three to four months,” the accused said.
Albury then denied knowing Royann Cooper, Smith’s housekeeper and that the three of them, when not at Smith’s apartment, would go around driving and drinking.
“How often did you go to Devince Smith’s house?” Ms Frazier asked.
“About four times, only to do a job,” the accused said. Albury agreed with Frazier’s suggestion that the apartment was well kept.
“Do you usually go to paint your client’s house at 5pm?” the prosecutor asked.
“I make an exception for some clients,” the jury heard.
“What colour paint did you take?” Ms Frazier asked. Albury said he brought white paint with him, which was going to be used on the Crown moldings in the front room and bedroom of the apartment.
“Isn’t it correct that Devince Smith never made any sexual advances at you on the prior occasions?” the prosecutor suggested. Albury said she was correct.
“Do you always smoke ‘beedies’ at your client’s home?” the prosecutor probed. Albury said Smith told him it was okay to do so.
“Prior to your coming there, did he ask you for a girl so he could have sex?” Ms Frazier asked. Albury said yes.
Ms Frazier suggested to Albury that in his voluntary record of interview in police custody, he made no claim that Smith made a pass at him.
“It’s shameful for me to say so I held that back,” Albury claimed.
“You said the deceased showed you porn? It was no gay porn correct?” the prosecutor asked.
“I didn’t even see what it was. I didn’t scan so long for it, I just bounced back,” the accused said.
“Did you leave?” the prosecutor asked.
“I tried to go but he tried to hold onto me,” Albury said.
The accused was asked if Smith only tried to attack him with one vase. Albury said yes.
“At the point that he attempted to hit you, was that the point you pulled out your painter’s knife?” Ms Frazier asked. Albury said yes.
“Where did you first stab him?” the prosecutor asked. Albury said in the neck while they struggled.
“How long did the fight last upstairs in the bedroom?” Ms Frazier further probed.
The accused said he couldn’t recall the length of time.
“You said the first injury was in the throat, did you inflict anymore injuries?” she asked.
Albury claimed Smith rushed at him again “so I started defending myself.”
The accused denied that Smith was running away from him. However, he conceded that Smith had no weapon.
Albury was asked why were the chairs in the living room overturned if the scuffle occurred upstairs and Smith collapsed at the base of the stairs.
The accused said when he left Smith there, he could not say if he was still alive and that Smith might have overturned the chairs.
Albury conceded that he turned himself in with a lawyer 14 days after the incident. However, he claimed that he hold his relatives what happened the day after and not December 29 or December 30 as the jury heard.
Albury did concede that he burned the clothes he wore on that day.
The case resumes today.