By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
A MAN sentenced to half a century in prison for murdering another man as he was dancing with his girlfriend in a sports bar in Grand Bahama four years ago is seeking to appeal his sentence.
Yvener Philome, and his attorney Christina Galanos, appeared before the appellate court for what was supposed to be the substantive appeal of his 50-year sentence for murdering Leonardo “Yellow” Pierre in 2014.
While Ms Galanos was prepared to proceed however, Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions Vernal Collie told appellate Justices Jon Isaacs, Stella Crane-Scott and Milton Evans that as he had just received the file of the matter at 5pm on Wednesday, he was unable to complete his skeleton submissions.
Mr Collie thus requested a short adjournment in the matter for him to fully complete those submissions.
Ms Galanos did not object to Mr Collie’s application, and the appellate judges adjourned the matter to May 10.
According to the Crown’s case, on March 30, 2014, at approximately 10:30pm, Pierre and his girlfriend Gina Lubin were dancing inside Sony’s Sports Bar, also known as the Boom Boom Room in the Gardens Villas area, otherwise known as “The Ghetto” in Freeport when a gunman shot Pierre in the back of his head.
After Pierre fell face down on the ground, the gunman stood over him and fired several more shots into his body.
Ms Lubin testified that while dancing with her boyfriend, she heard one gunshot and asked him if he heard the same. When he did not answer her, she turned around to face him, at which point he fell face down on the ground.
She said she subsequently stood two feet away from the gunman as he stood over Pierre and fired shots into his body. She also said that when the shooter was done, she took out her cell phone to call the police, but when she realized the shooter was looking at her, she put her cell phone back in her pocket.
The gunman then left. He did not have anything covering his face.
On April 4, 2014, Ms Lubin attended an identification parade where she picked out Philome as the shooter. Philome was then informed that he was positively identified as the gunman and he said nothing in response.
Edgar Mark Ferguson, who was also in the sport’s bar when the shooting occurred, also testified that on the night in question, after he heard one gunshot, he looked around the bar and saw Philome standing over Pierre with a gun in his hand and that he subsequently heard other shots ring out. He said on the following morning, sometime between 5 and 5:30, he saw Philome in the bush in the back of his residence while he was headed to work.
Mr Ferguson stated that at about 7am that morning he received a phone call from Philome, who asked him where he was. Mr Ferguson said he told Philome he was to work, but that he didn’t want him to call him anymore and subsequently hung up the phone. Between thirty minutes to an hour later Mr Ferguson said police came to his place of employment and took him into custody.
He said he was questioned in reference to the incident and that he told the police that Philome was the shooter and that he had last seen Philome in the bush in the back of his residence. Mr Ferguson then took the officers to the bush where he claimed he last saw Philome and upon searching the area, officers discovered a black and gray 40 Ruger pistol and a magazine next to it. The Crown was able to establish through the evidence of two firearm examiners that it was the same weapon that was used in the shooting.
On March 31, 2014 at about 7am, officers arrested Philome after he came out of the same set of bushes where Mr Ferguson claimed he saw him in. It was also established that Philome also lived in the vicinity of the same bush.
On April 4, 2014, at about 6pm, police conducted a confrontation between Philome and Mr Ferguson and both maintained that the other shot Pierre.
Another individual, Avery Lightbourne, also testified that on the night in question, he gave Philome a ride in a 2002 White Ford Ranger and that when they arrived in “The Ghetto” at Johnny’s Shop, he watched as Philome jumped out of the truck before he in turn jumped out and left his keys in the truck. He then went inside and fell asleep. However, he was later awoken by someone who gave him certain information and when he checked, he noticed that the truck was missing. He walked straight to the police station to report the truck stolen, as he did not give anyone permission to use the truck.
However, that same truck was found in the vicinity of the bush where Philome was arrested.
However, Philome, in his sworn testimony, told the court that on March 31, 2014, he and Mr Lightbourne were together for the entire evening and that they eventually ended up by AJ’s Shop in Garden Villas where they met up with someone by the name of Pilly. From there, they ended up going to Sony’s Sports Bar.
Philome said once there, they met up with Mr Ferguson, who called him in the bathroom and told him that a guy who was in the bar who violated him had to go. Philome said he then told Mr Ferguson that everyone saw them walk into the bathroom and that if something happened to the person who violated him, everyone would say they were involved.
Nonetheless, Philome said he and Mr Ferguson returned to the dance floor and Pilly walked up to him and asked him if he wanted something to drink. Philome replied that he wasn’t interested in a drink and Pilly consequently went back to the DJ booth. Philome said he subsequently turned around and saw when Mr Ferguson pulled out a gun and shot Pierre.
Philome said he subsequently ran out of the building straight to the 2002 White Ford Ranger truck and drove home. He acknowledged that the truck belonged to Mr Lightbourne, but claimed Mr Lightbourne gave him permission to drive the truck.
Philome said once he got home, he parked the truck in the back of a building and walked through a track road, which commenced in the back of the building and led to his home, before going inside of his home.
He said when he woke up the following morning to use the restroom, someone was utilizing it so he went outside in the bush to relieve himself. He said after he did that, police officers came into the bush, arrested him and told him he was being arrested in reference to murder.
Philome told the Court that he did not have a gun on him on the night in question, that he did not hide in the bushes next to Kirby Court. He further claimed that he and Pierre were good friends, that they went to primary school straight up to high school together and that they used to sleep in each other’s houses. He also stated that the last time he had an issue with Pierre was in 2010 while gambling together; however, he said they had since squashed the issue. He further maintained that at the time of Pierre’s death, there were no problems between them and they still visited each other.
On the evening of April 4, 2014, Philome was charged with Pierre’s murder. He made no reply to the charge.
Philome was arraigned in the Supreme Court on one count of murder on June 22, 2015. He plead not guilty to the charge.
The Crown called seventeen witnesses in support of its case against Philome, who, following the close of the Crown’s case, gave sworn evidence but did not call any witnesses.
Philome was convicted of murder on June 30th, 2015. He was sentenced to 50 years for the crime on October 15, 2015.