By:St. Clair Sazam Hull
(CHARLESTOWN NEVIS)-The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, Nevis Circuit continued its sitting on Tuesday, November 10, 2015 before Her Ladyship Justice Margaret Price-Finley.
The matter before the court was that of Jerome Kelvin Williams, a resident of Maynard’s Ground Gingerland who was charged for Murder. Williams pleaded not guilty to the charge. According to the Director of Public Prosecutions, on Friday, May 20, 2013 Jerome Williams strangled and killed Chazere Davis also of Maynard’s Ground. She was 18 years old at the time of her demise.
In his opening statement, Prosecutor Dane Hamilton QC told the court that Chazere’s life was sadly taken away from her. He also noted that there was no concrete evidence that Williams murdered the victim and the Prosecution’s case is based solely on circumstantial evidence. He continued, “No one is saying that they saw the accused directly murdered Chazere, but based on the circumstantial evidence that surrounds the case, we can put bits and pieces together and then draw a conclusion of what transpired”. Hamilton told the jury, that Nevis is a very Infinitesimal society where everybody has connections but they must not come to a judgment based on their emotions.
The Prosecution’s first witness was grandmother of the deceased, Ms. Auriela Chapman. She stated that on the day of the incident, Chazere left her home and visited the accused at his house. She indicated that she was irresolute, as to the exact time when her granddaughter returned, because she was making johnnycakes at the time. Ms. Chapman told the court, that she was unaware of Chazere’s situation, and only knew about it, when her daughter-in- law informed her.
Defense lawyer for the accused, Mr. Robelto Hector cross-examined the witness. Hector asked the grandmother, if she was aware that the deceased and the accused were in a relationship at the time of her death. Ms. Chapman noted that she was not cognizant of that, but she knew Jerome got along well with Chazere and the family at large. Hector also asked Ms. Chapman, if the deceased ever slept at the defendant’s home. She replied and said that Chazere slept at his home on one occasion. The lawyer asked Ms. Chapman, if she was certain that it was just one time and she indicated that it was more than once.
The Prosecution’s next witness was Mr. Marvin Chapman. Chapman indicated that he dropped Chazere home on the day of the occurrence, and a car was parked outside. He told the court, that he was in disbelief when he heard that she had died. He continued, “I was shocked when I learnt of Chazere’s passing, that was the last thing I expected to have heard”.
Constable Derell Boon also testified under oath. Boon noted that on the night in question, at about 9:45 pm, he was on duty at the Gingerland Police Station when he received a call from Maynard’s Ground. The officer told the court that he and Constable Wallace traveled to the resident area and upon arrival; they saw Dr. Chandy Jacob and the EMS Team. He stated that doctor led him into a room, where Chazere’s lifeless body was located. Boon pointed out, that after having a conversation with the deceased grandmother; he suspected that something may have happened with the accused Jerome Williams.
The officer said that himself and Wallace proceeded to the house of the defendant, and called a few times. He said no one answered but loud music was coming from inside. Boon noted that they made an effort to open the door, but it was locked from inside. He told the court, that they took the hinges off the door to gain entry. The officer stated that after arriving inside, they searched the house and found Williams inside the bathroom covered in blood.
He said that the EMS Team transported the accused to the hospital in the ambulance. During cross-examination, Hector asked the officer if they did an assessment, before inspecting the property of the defendant. Boon noted that they searched and then made an assessment. The lawyer also asked Boon, if they wore gloves during the search, Boon indicated that they did not wore any gloves while conducting the search.
Constable Antonio Browne, also testified on behalf of the Prosecution. Browne noted that on the night of the incident, he was instructed by Superintendant Hilroy Brandy, to visit the crime scene. Browne told the court, that he took items from the crime scene which included the deceased clothes and her phone. He indicated that he took pictures of the accused house, both exterior and interior and of the items he collected. During cross-examination, Hector asked Browne what was the colour of the phone, and what type of phone it was. Browne said that the phone was a ‘white and pink’ cellular phone. Hector also asked the officer, if he took pictures of the locks that were on the door. Browne noted that he did not take any pictures of the locks.
Sister of the deceased, Keresia Wilkinson, also gave evidence on behalf of the Prosecution. She pointed out, that on the day in question, she left home at about 3pm. and returned shortly after 7pm. She stated that she went into the bedroom of the deceased and Chazere was lying on her bed with a fan pointing towards her face. The sister told the court, that Chazere appeared to be sleeping and she tried getting her attention by calling her name, but she didn’t answer. She stated that she immediately alerted relatives about the situation and then called the Police.
During cross-examination, the lawyer asked Keresia if there was a relationship between Williams and the deceased. She admitted that there was a relationship, but it was ending due to irreconcilable differences. Hector also asked the witness, if she was aware of a cellular phone that was owned by Chazere and what was the colour of the phone. Ms. Wilkinson indicated that she knew of a ‘Black’ phone that Chazere had before she died.
In his address to the jury, Prosecutor, Dane Hamilton QC told them that the case was not a straightforward one, but a guilty verdict would be the correct decision. He pointed out that based on the evidence; the last person’s company Chazere was in was that of the accused. He continued, “The last person Chazere was with was Jerome Williams and if anybody killed her it had to be him”. The prosecutor also spoke about the injuries that Williams sustained.
He told the jury panel, that if a person had attempted to kill the deceased they would have done it since he was unconscious at the time when the Police found him. Hamilton stated, “The officers said that when they got inside the accused house he was laying unconsciously in the bathroom, so if he wants you to believe that it was somebody else who killed Chazere and then tried to murder him, then why they didn’t accomplish what they set out to do if he was unconscious?” The QC told the jurors, that justice must be serve for a young innocent girl and they must find the accused guilty for what he did.
Defense lawyer Mr. Robelto Hector also addressed the jury. He lamented on the inconsistency and unprofessionalism of the officers who handled the investigation. Hector told the jury, that none of the officers wore gloves or protective gear on the crime scene. He pointed out to the jury, that contamination could have taken place during the search. Hector also told the jurors, that the Police evidence was inconsistent. Hector noted that Officer Browne, spoke about a white and pink phone owned by the deceased but in contrast to what he said, Ms. Keresia Chapman pointed out that Chazere had a black phone. He continued, “So what colour phone it was? Was it pink and white or was it black, or was there any phone at all?”
Hector also spoke about the deceased clothes. He stated that Chazere’s garment was taken, but was not sent to any lab for testing and that must be taken into consideration. He told the jury, that if the accused had any sort of physical contact with the deceased, then her clothes ought to have played a role in strengthening the Prosecution’s case. Therefore, it baffles him as to why her clothes were not sent off to be examined.
In summing-up the case, Her Ladyship told the jury, that before they come to a decision of whether the accused was guilty or not guilty, they have to examine all the evidence that was presented. However, she pointed out to them, that the Defense had nothing to prove and it was the Prosecution’s job to prove its case in a satisfactory manner, and beyond all reasonable doubt. Her Ladyship indicated to the jury, that if they were unsure, then the accused should be handed the benefit of the doubt.
She also told the jurors, that the evidence against Williams was not set in stone because nobody saw him commit the crime, so they must infer from the circumstances surrounding the allegation. She also warned them not to make any decision, based on what they may have heard before the inception of the trial. Her ladyship continued, “If you heard anything about this case before it started, don’t make a decision because of what you heard, you have to draw a conclusion on what was said in this court”.
Williams did not take the stand in his defense. The jury deliberated for just over an hour and returned a guilty verdict.
He is due to be sentenced on January 18, 2016.