By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
A MAN told the court on Friday of how he heard what sounded like “firecrackers” going off at the nearby Freedom Park, only to end up finding his stepson lying in a pool of blood at the Fox Hill recreation grounds seven years ago.
Carl Kemp testified how unbeknownst to him, the “firecrackers” he heard were actually a hailstorm of bullets the Crown says claimed the life of 19-year-old Shaquille Demeritte during the December 2013 drive-by shooting.
Mr Kemp said when he managed to make it to the park, his stepson was still responsive, but lying in a “pool of blood” that was created by blood pouring from injuries to the front and back of his head.
Having died sometime after the shooting, Mr Kemp said of his stepson: “He’s awaiting the resurrection”, referring to the Christian belief that at the second coming of Jesus Christ, those who died with their souls devoted to Him will be resurrected.
The evidence was led before Justice Deborah Fraser into the Freedom Park mass, drive-by shooting on December 17, 2013.
Justin Williams, Peter Rolle, and Jermaine Curry are the accused. It is alleged that the three murdered four people – Demeritte, Claudezino Davis, Eric Morrison and Shenique Sands. They are also charged with the attempted murder of Chino Davis, Janet Davis, John Davis, Samuel Ferguson, Jermaine Pratt and Leroy Taylor.
According to initial reports, around 6pm on the date in question, occupants of a small, dark vehicle opened fire “with a variety of weapons” in the area just behind the basketball court where several people were gathered awaiting Junkanoo results.
Davis was pronounced dead at the scene while ten others were taken to hospital in private vehicles and an ambulance. Demeritte, Morrison and Sands later died in hospital of their injuries.
Taking the witness stand on Friday, Mr Kemp testified that after going to his house sometime between 4 and 6pm on the date in question, he found his 19-year-old stepson closing up the barbershop he operated, which was located in their yard.
As Demeritte was doing that, Mr Kemp said he hailed him, and anticipated that his stepson would go directly inside their house after closing shop as usual.
Mr Kemp said he eventually went inside to his wife, who gave him certain information pertaining to Demeritte. Then, a short while later, sometime between 5 and 6pm, he heard “a lot of noise” coming from the nearby park that sounded like firecrackers.
Mr Kemp said he told his wife that the noise sounded like firecrackers, but he said she in turn said it sounded like something else.
Shortly after hearing the “firecrackers”, and more noise from the park, he heard a sudden knock at the door. Mr Kemp said both he and his wife answered the door to a young man he knows. The young man told him something that prompted him and his wife to go to the park.
Mr Kemp said upon arriving at the park, which he said was five minutes away if “walking fast”, it was “filled with people” and “a lot of noise”. Mr Kemp said a few people directed him to a certain area of the park, which he said was directly underneath the basketball rim on the eastern side of the park.
“And there lying—what I witnessed—in a pool of blood, was my stepson,” Mr Kemp said.
Mr Kemp said blood was coming from Demeritte’s forehead and more blood was coming from the back of his head, but he was responsive. He said he saw other people lying down and people gathered around them, but did not know the “severity” of the situation at the time.
Days later on the 30th of that month, Mr Kemp said he, along with Demeritte’s biological father, Michael Kelly, and other family members, visited the morgue. Mr Kemp said he had his stepson’s passport with him at the time.
Once there, he said only he and Mr Kelly were led into a room where a doctor spoke to them alone. The other family members stayed in the foyer area.
Mr Kemp said he and Mr Kelly viewed Demeritte’s body through a glass, which was when he positively identified the body as that of his stepson.
Mr Kemp is the second civilian witness to testify at the trial. During Thursday’s proceedings, Claudezino Davis’ wife, Helen Davis, testified how she left her husband in the Bahamas to go on a trip out of the country with her children, only to find out later that he was one of those killed in the mass shooting.
“At first I was in shock, and then I cried,” she said, remembering when she first got the news.
Mrs Davis, said she was in Fort Lauderdale with her children and other family members when she was given the news. She said her son had celebrated a birthday that month, and as a birthday gift Mr Davis had decided to send him on a trip to Florida. Mrs Davis said her husband did not go because he had to work.
Mrs Davis said they were originally due to spend the week in Florida, but ended up cutting it short due to the news about her husband. She said at the time, local police chartered a plane, flew over to Florida and brought her, her children, her mother-in-law and her children’s aunt back to Nassau.
That occurred on December 28th, according to the evidence.
Mrs Davis said the plane landed at a “private airport” in New Providence, and once she and her family disembarked, police escorted her and her children to their home.
Mrs Davis said two days later on December 30th she went to the morgue with her mother-in-law and identified her husband’s body.
She buried her husband some two weeks later.
The case continues next week.