Teacher’s murder: guilty as charged


Tribune Staff Reporter


A SUPREME Court jury yesterday found Allister Williams unanimously guilty for the September 2016 murder of pregnant Charles W Saunders Baptist school teacher Marisha Bowen.

The 12-member jury, 11 women and one man convicted Williams after just under two hours of deliberation.

The Crown is seeking the death penalty for Williams, of Garden Hills, pursuant to section 291 (1)(a) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC).

The jury also found him unanimously guilty of robbing Ms Bowen of two cellphones and an iPod.

The count of receiving he was previously charged with fell away.

Justice Carolina Bethel said Williams will receive his sentence on July 24. A probation as well as a psychiatric report was consequently ordered to be prepared.

Ms Bowen, a native of Guyana, was murdered sometime during the morning hours of September 9 in her apartment on Red Sea Road off Sumner Street.

According to initial reports, police said Ms Bowen was found shortly after 8am on the Friday in question in her apartment by other tenants. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Miriam Brown, a tenant at the apartment and Ms Bowen’s upstairs neighbour, testified how around 7.30am she was lying down listening to the news when she heard screams from downstairs and someone asking: “How you get inside here?”

Ms Brown said she heard that remark just once.

During trial, Detective Corporal Javod Frazer said subsequent to arriving at the Red Sea road complex, he saw blood on walls, the floor and miscellaneous items in the Guyanese woman’s apartment before ultimately finding her “lifeless” and “nude” body lying in a “large accumulation” of blood on her bed.

Det Cpl Frazer said the woman had what appeared to be a yellow dress with suspected blood covering her face, as well as a black cloth belt wrapped around her neck. He said he noticed visible injuries to the woman’s neck and chin and also a grey towel with blood stains in the area of her right arm.

Forensic Pathologist Dr Caryn Sands, in her autopsy report, said the 35-year-old died as a result of six stab wounds to the neck and oxygen depravation.

Dr Sands’ report said the half-dozen stab wounds caused injury and bleeding to the soft tissue and blood vessels in Ms Bowen’s neck leading to blood loss.

Dr Sands’ report also noted Ms Bowen was approximately three months pregnant at the time of her death. The autopsy revealed a “normally formed” foetus whose measurements were “consistent with a gestation of 12-13 weeks”.

Additionally, the report said the 35-year-old had a belt around her neck with an underlying “furrow” consistent with pressure applied to her neck by the belt, which were associated with ruptured blood vessels in her eyes, mouth and larynx.

That would have caused lack of blood flow to her brain and contributed to her death, Dr Sands’ report noted.

Dr Sands’ report further noted Ms Bowen suffered numerous other injuries, such as upper lip lacerations and both lower and upper lip contusions, a contusion on the right side of the chest, intramuscular haemorrhage of the tongue and laceration to the mouth.

During previous proceedings, Rachel Oefelein, a forensic DNA analyst at DNA Labs International in Florida, testified how the DNA profile obtained from a “sperm fraction” found on Ms Bowen’s vaginal swab matched the DNA profile obtained from Williams.

Ms Oefelein said the chance that an unrelated person, chosen at random from the general population, would match that DNA profile is approximately one in every 160 quadrillion individuals.

Additionally, Ms Oefelein said her forensic analysis of Ms Bowen’s fingernail clippings, which showed indications of blood matter, revealed a DNA profile “foreign” to the victim.

And that foreign DNA profile, Ms Oefelein said, indicated at least one male contributor. Ms Oefelein said Williams could not be ruled out as a possible contributor to that foreign DNA profile, thus, it was reanalysed using probabilistic genotyping methods.

Due to it being reanalysed, Ms Oefelein said the DNA profile obtained from the fingernail clippings is approximately 31,000 times more probable if the sample originated from Williams and Bowen than if it originated from Bowen and an unknown person.

Therefore, she said there is very strong support that Williams and Ms Bowen contributed to that mixed DNA profile, rather than Ms Bowen and an unknown person.

At the close of the Crown’s case, Williams opted to remain silent but called two witnesses on his behalf - his mother and attorney Lessiah Rolle, whose evidence he used to corroborate his alibi that he could not have been at the scene of the crime on the date and time in question.

Williams’ mother testified that on the date in question, her son was at home in Garden Hills before he left with her to do school runs. She claimed she ultimately dropped him off in the downtown area. Mr Rolle, meanwhile, testifed that at 9:45am on the date in question, he met with Williams for an appointment.

Stanley Rolle and Marianne Cadet from the Office of the Public Defender represented Williams. Roger Thompson and Fania Joseph, from the office of the attorney general, prosecuted the matter.


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