By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
A man has been acquitted of murdering Sergeant 1475 Wayne Rolle during the course of an armed robbery five years ago - but his brother's appeal was dismissed.
Appellate Justices Sir Michael Barnett and Milton Evans quashed Kevin “Sheva” McKenzie’s 45-year sentence for murdering the senior police officer and robbing him of his cellphone on December 4, 2014.
Meanwhile, the appellate justices unanimously dismissed Dion “Breasie” Bethel’s appeal, and consequently upheld his conviction and 40-year sentence for the crime, having found no merit in his proposed grounds of appeal.
The reason why McKenzie was acquitted, according to a written ruling, was because other than McKenzie being in possession of the officer’s phone, there was no other evidence to link him to the offences.
Sir Michael further noted that the trial judge should have explained to the jury that McKenzie being in possession of Sgt Rolle’s cellphone did not automatically mean he was the thief; he could have been the receiver or a person who received and sold stolen goods.
However, Appellate President Sir Hartman Longley dissented on the decision to acquit McKenzie, asserting that based on the circumstances of the case, the jury was entitled to accept that McKenzie was the thief and thus the murderer.
Sgt Rolle was shot in the head and killed as he sat in his vehicle with a female friend while off duty on December 4, 2014. The incident took place around 7pm on Durham Street off Montrose Avenue.
Then-Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police Stephen Dean said police received reports of the shooting and upon arrival they found Sgt Rolle slumped over the driver’s seat of his car with gunshot wounds. Sr ACP Dean said a “female companion” was in the vehicle with the officer at the time of the shooting, but was unharmed.
At around 7.30pm. Sgt Rolle picked up his girlfriend, Shavon Seymour from her residence. They later parked in the parking lot of Bahamas Auto Parts to talk. Sgt Rolle was in the driver’s seat while Ms Seymour sat behind him.
Approximately five minutes after Sgt Rolle parked the vehicle, a person passed Ms Seymour’s window and went straight to the passenger window holding his hand straight ahead.
Ms Seymour said she could not see if the person had a gun or not, although that individual told Sgt Rolle not to move and to give him everything he had. Sgt Rolle proceeded to take the keys out of the ignition and while doing so was fumbling. He got his phone in his hand and was fumbling with his watch.
Another person then went to the driver’s side window and said, “Open the door, open the door.” At that point, Sgt Rolle’s window was down and Ms Seymour’s window was rolled up. Ms Seymour said she fumbled in her attempt to find the lock but could not find it.
Sgt Rolle then said: “I am going to open the door. Don’t shoot her.” The senior officer subsequently unlocked the door from the front and the person who was at his window opened the door and started feeling Ms Seymour’s pockets.
Ms Seymour said she told the two men that she did not have anything on her. However, one of them told her: “Don’t look at me! Turn around, turn your head, lay down in the seat!” She did as was told and replied: “I am not going to look at you.”
Ms Seymour said she turned and put her head down and closed her eyes before she heard a loud bang and a groan from Sgt Rolle. After a minute or so, she started calling his name but got no answer. Afterwards, she said she got out of the car and called for help.
On December 20, 2014, Bethel was arrested and cautioned over Sgt Rolle’s murder, which he denied all knowledge of. Two days later, he gave the police two records of interview and one statement under caution, which the Crown based its entire case upon.
Additionally, Crown witness Kendia Farrington testified that on December 24, 2014, Bethel told her that his brother, Kevin McKenzie aka “Sheva”, should have never sold her a phone. The Crown’s case was that police initially found the phone in Farrington’s possession, and that she said she bought the phone from McKenzie. Thus, the Crown sought to establish that the phone she bought was the same phone that was stolen from Sgt Rolle on the date in question.
Bethel and McKenzie were subsequently both formally charged with murdering Sgt Rolle and robbing him at gunpoint of a Samsung Galaxy S5 cell phone.
During trial, Bethel opted to testify in his defence, and said on the date in question, he was with a man named Trevor Bethel all day up until 6pm when Trevor Bethel was shot in his hand. Bethel said the only time he left Trevor’s house was when he went to the Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) with Trevor’s sister Shantara Bethel to see him.
Bethel said he and Shantara also went to two restaurants to get something for Trevor and Trevor’s mother to eat. He said he took the food to PMH and upon going through the security checkpoint, the metal detector went off because he had a lighter on his person. He said he stayed at PMH for a while before being dropped off at Trevor Bethel’s house sometime later.
Bethel also claimed that on December 22, 2014, he was beaten and ‘fish-bagged’ by police while at the Central Detective Unit (CDU), who told him they had already killed his brother and that they would kill him next. He said when he told them he didn’t do anything, they responded by saying if he didn’t do anything, he should just do as they said and that they would consequently let him go. Bethel claimed he did everything they told him to but he still found himself charged for something he had no knowledge of.
He further claimed that after being beaten, then taken to the scene of the crime and to his mother’s house, they took him back to CDU. Once there, and while being interviewed by a police officer, Bethel said his interrogator was looking at him and talking under his breath to make sure he answered the questions in the right way.
He said prior to the officers taking him on the crime scene, he did not know where the crime scene was.
McKenzie also gave sworn evidence during trial. He said on the date in question, he was at Quakoo Street at Trevor Bethel’s residence. He said he took Farrington to a friend who had a phone for sale. He claimed he never had possession of the phone but merely passed the phone from his friend to Farrington and did the same with the money from Farrington to his friend.
He also claimed he was abused by police while in custody resulting in him having to receive treatment at the Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH).
Christina Galanos represented Bethel on appeal. Ryszard Humes represented McKenzie.
Cordell Frazier represented the Crown.