By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
TIANO D’Haiti was convicted by a Supreme Court jury yesterday after finding him unanimously guilty for the role he played in the October 2014 shooting death of Blair Estates resident Andre Cartwright.
After over an hour of deliberation, the jury returned to Justice Renae McKay’s courtroom with a guilty verdict on the murder, attempted armed robbery and burglary charges with which D’Haiti was faced.
As the foreman announced the jury’s verdict pertaining to the three charges, various sighs of relief could be heard from the relatives and friends of Cartwright present in the courtroom, some who shed tears at the outcome.
D’Haiti is set to receive his sentence on December 6 at 2pm.
The verdict marks the end of a five-week trial into the October 28, 2014 home invasion and murder. D’Haiti stood trial along with Kevin Andrews of Montell Heights as the two accused in the matter, both having been initially arraigned on November 11, 2014.
However, Andrews was acquitted by the jury last week on the instructions of Justice McKay after hearing submissions from the Crown and the defence. Kendra Kelly and Destiny McKinney represented the Crown in the matter, while Jairam Mangra represents D’Haiti.
According to initial police reports, Cartwright, 44, was at his Blair Estates home around 1.40am with his mother, Emma Cartwright, and father, Glenn Cartwright, when men kicked in the front door of the house.
When he heard the noise, Cartwright got his licensed shotgun and went to investigate, police reported. He encountered the three suspects, one of whom was armed with a handgun.
There was a brief exchange of gunfire, which resulted in Cartwright being shot multiple times. He died at the scene. One of the suspects was also shot, however, he and the other men escaped in a silver coloured Honda Accord.
During closing arguments on Monday, Mr Mangra submitted that as D’Haiti had “nothing to prove” in the matter, the onus was on the Crown to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, something which he noted is a “particularly high standard” to attain.
Mr Mangra further submitted that despite there being forensic and scientific analyses conducted into Cartwright’s murder, the Crown had not produced anything to establish a nexus between D’Haiti suffering a gunshot wound to the left chest and the incident in question.
Mr Mangra also questioned the circumstances surrounding the oral statements D’Haiti allegedly made to Detective Sergeant Sherwin Braynen on October 31, 2014 while in the Princess Margaret Hospital suffering from a gunshot wound.
Previously, Sgt Braynen told the court how D’Haiti told him from his hospital bed that while he was one of five men who visited Cartwright’s home on the night in question, he stayed in the car while the other four forced their way into the home.
According to Sgt Braynen, D’Haiti said he only went into the house after he heard the sound of gunshots. And, upon entering and noticing his former co-accused Kevin Andrews, he heard another shot ring out, consequently he fled with the others, and later realised he had been shot.
Another officer, Corporal Santino Maycock, offered a similar testimony during the trial.
However, Mr Mangra submitted on Monday that the officers gave conflicting evidence about D’Haiti’s alleged confession, and that they allegedly “colluded” to concoct the story.
At best, Mr Mangra charged, D’Haiti’s alleged statements to Sgt Braynen only place him at the scene of the crime, and after the fact at that.
However, Ms Kelly stated that the Crown had provided enough circumstantial evidence throughout the trial, and that the jury could make reasonable inferences about D’Haiti’s guilt from the evidence led.
Ms Kelly said examples of circumstantial evidence relevant to the matter include, but are not limited to the gunshot wound he suffered to his left lateral chest, allegedly as a result of the home invasion, as well as the period of time between the shooting and D’Haiti’s arrival at Accident and Emergency (A&E).
Ms Kelly also highlighted D’Haiti’s decision to remain silent when called upon to answer the Crown’s case against him. She noted that while it was his right to remain silent, it also meant there was nothing on his behalf to contradict the Crown’s case against him.