By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Court of Appeal has quashed the conviction and 20-year sentence of a man previously found guilty of attempting to murder another man as he and his friends sat in a car outside his residence five years ago.
Appellate Justices Jon Isaacs, Roy Jones and Sir Michael Barnett set aside Franklyn Edgecombe's sentence concerning the March 11, 2013, shooting of Leonardo Kirkwood Rolle on Anderson Street.
The judges said Edgecombe's conviction was "unsafe" and thus worthy of being quashed because of, but not limited to, the trial judge's failure to give a direction to the jury on how to treat evidence that Edgecombe had been in jail and that his photo was in a "rogues gallery".
The judges also dismissed the Crown's invitation for the Court of Appeal to order a retrial, stating that as it was the Crown's witnesses that "improperly" revealed the "prejudicial information" that Edgecombe was known to the police, a retrial would not be in the "interest of justice".
According to the ruling, at about 8.30pm on the date in question, Rolle was shot while seated in the front passenger seat of a car on Anderson Street in New Providence. A week later, while at the hospital, Rolle told the police it was "Chilly" who shot him.
Rolle gave evidence to that effect at the trial and identified Edgecombe as the person he knew as "Chilly" and the person who shot him. The Crown cited the evidence of two other witnesses who saw the incident, but could not identify the person who shot Rolle because that person was wearing a hood and his face was covered.
Jerome Young, in the driver's seat of the car when the incident occurred, said that evening, he, Rolle, and his cousin Samuel Johnson were sitting in his car, which was parked outside his house on Anderson Street, chilling out and smoking.
Young said he went upstairs to take a bath and returned at about 8.30pm. He said as he attempted to sit in the vehicle, Rolle asked him for a lighter. Young in turn then searched for the lighter, and as he was telling Rolle he did not have it, saw a "fire like a gunshot came through the car glass".
After noticing the gunshot hit the vehicle, Young told the Court he had just enough time to sit in the vehicle. He did not see the gun, and he did not see the shooter's face. Nonetheless, Young eventually saw his car being driven by Johnson, whom he flagged down.
On hopping in the back seat, he found Rolle suffering from a gunshot wound.
When interviewed by police officer Desmond Rolle, Edgecombe denied he shot (Leonardo) Rolle, and at the trial Edgecombe exercised his right to remain silent. Nonetheless, he was still convicted.
Edgecombe appealed his conviction and sentence on the grounds that given the inconsistency in the identification evidence, the trial judge ought not to have allowed the case to go to the jury; as the case was based upon identification evidence the judge ought to have given and failed to give a Turnbull direction; the trial judge failed to give any directions to the jury as to how they should treat the evidence that suggested he had been in jail or was otherwise known to the police.
Edgecombe's first grounds ultimately failed.
On the second ground, the judges noted that while the trial judge did give a Turnbull direction, which relates to identification evidence, it was "not specific to the evidence lead at the trial so as to enable the jury to satisfy itself that the caution given by the judge had been met by the evidence".
The appellate judges said the trial judge's direction did not, for example, give any direction to the jury concerning the "varying distance of the various eyewitnesses to the shooter", nor the "fleeting time" in which Rolle would have seen Edgecombe.
Concerning the third ground, the appellate judges noted that during the trial, there was more than one reference to the fact that Edgecombe had been in jail and that his photo was in a "rogues" gallery, thus implying he was known to police.
One example of this was Officer Rolle testifying that Edgecombe told him he knew Rolle "because they were in prison together".