By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
The man accused of murdering a middle-aged woman on Valentine’s Day three years ago at Seagrape, Eight Mile Rock, had told the lead police investigator that the bruises and abrasions on his body were caused from “lovemaking” with his girlfriend and while playing basketball.
Detective Sergeant 770 Lorenzo Johnson was testifying in the Supreme Court on Tuesday in the trial of 33-year-old Dwayne Belizaire, who is accused of murdering Margaret Smith on February 14, 2017.
Smith, who was found dead at her residence in Seagrape, had been strangled and immersed in water, according to earlier court evidence. Det Sgt Johnson said on February 17, 2017, he collected Belizaire, who was in police custody at the Lucayan Police Station, around 9.55am and took him to Seagrape, EMR, where they executed a search warrant at his residence.
Sgt Johnson collected some clothing the defendant had been wearing on February 14, as well as a cellular phone that belonged to Belizaire.
During that time, Sgt Johnson said he observed bruises and abrasions on Belizaire’s left hand and bicep and a mark on the right side of his neck.
“I asked him under caution how he got the injuries and he told me his girlfriend, Cheryl Miller, had done it while lovemaking,” the officer told the court.
Sgt Johnson said the defendant also told him the bruise on his left side was from playing basketball.
When asked by Prosecutor Erica Kemp if he could identify Belizaire, the police officer pointed at the defendant who was seated in court wearing a red shirt.
According to Sgt Johnson, Belizaire was taken to the Rand Memorial Hospital on February 18 where he was examined by Dr Fermal, who also took a blood sample from the defendant.
He said an extension was obtained to hold Belizaire in custody further.
The police investigator said on February 21 around 5.06pm he informed the defendant that he was suspected of the murder of Margaret Smith, who had sustained abrasions and scratches on the face and neck and wounds to the back and right arm.
At the deceased’s residence he had also observed what appeared to be bloodstains on the sheetrock in a corridor leading to a bathroom, where there was a bloody towel on the floor, some clothing and a mop.
Sgt Johnson said he cautioned and interviewed Belizaire, who denied committing the murder. He said the defendant refused to sign the record of interview.
“I asked if he wished to read the questions and answers, and sign the interview, he said, ‘No’. “
The detective said the defendant was asked about his whereabouts on February 14, 2017.
According to Sgt Johnson, Belizaire told him he had been near the deceased’s residence on the morning of Valentine’s Day.
Belizaire, he said, had left home around 9am and walked through a track road near to the deceased’s house where he saw Smith standing in her doorway. He said he gave a hail to the deceased and went to hail a neighbour not far away.
Sgt Johnson said Belizaire told him he went back towards a car parked near Smith’s house, where he stayed awhile before heading behind a neighbour’s house to catch the WiFi on his cellular phone.
After the interview, Belizaire was released from police custody on February 22. Sgt Johnson said as the investigation continued on March 7 he went to Seagrape where saw Pastor Dwight Jennings who was with Ashley Henfield and Tyrone Lawrence.
The men gave certain information to the detective and directed him and other officers “deep” into bushes, just southeast of the deceased Margaret Smith’s residence, to an area under a tree.
Sgt Johnson said they found a grey pair of panties, a dark blue piece of cloth and a GB Shipyard key holder with a single key on it buried in the ground.
The items were photographed and collected. Sgt Johnson then went to Smith’s residence where he and officers met the deceased’s son Shervin Thomas and discovered the key opened the southeastern back door of her residence.
Johnson testified that on March 22, two officers from the Police Forensic Lab in New Providence processed inside the residence.
Sgt Johnson said on August 16, 2017, he received a DNA report from an international DNA Lab. He said on August 25, Belizaire was accompanied by his attorney Simone Brown to Central Police Station, where he was arrested for murder. He said Belizaire was interviewed again with his lawyer present and denied committing the offence. Sgt Johnson said he charged the defendant with murder.
The trial resumes. Belizaire is represented by Jethlyn Burrows.