By: St. Clair ‘Sazam’ Hull
(CHARLESTOWN NEVIS) The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, Nevis Circuit resumed its sitting on Wednesday, November 4, 2015 before her Ladyship, Justice Lorraine Williams.
The first matter to commence was that of Guillermo Santana a national of the Dominican Republic. He was charged with wounding with intent to cause grievous body harms and unlawful wounding. He pled not guilty to both charges.
According to Arudranauth Gossai, Acting Director of Public Prosecutions, on Monday, February 24, 2014, Guillermo Santana did unlawfully and intentionally wound Cesar ‘Pabel’ Santana who is now deceased with a machete. Cesar Santana was also a national of the Dominican Republic. The incident took place at the Elquemedo Willett Park located in Charlestown.
The Prosecution’s first witness to testify under oath, was Timothy Caines. He indicated that he was present at the Elquemedo Willett Park at around 5.00 pm. training some athletes for Track&Field when he heard a commotion. Caines pointed out, that he looked in the direction of where the disturbance was and he saw one individual running and pelting stones. He also pointed out that the first individual was pursued relentlessly by a second individual who also was throwing stones and appeared to have had a weapon in his hand. He told the court that the he was uncertain of what the weapon was, but he was familiar with both individuals. Caines noted that the person who was being pursued, fell to the ground and him and the second individual started to wrestle.
However, the accused got the upper hand and struck Cesar Santana on three occasions with the weapon. He indicated that Cesar managed to escape his attacker, went under a fence and the defendant turned around and went on his way.
Defense lawyer for the defendant, Mr. Chesley Hamilton cross-examined the witness. Hamilton asked Caines how he knew that the person who is in question was the person who was involved in the altercation. Caines promulgated that he knew the accused as a bus driver who they called ‘Amigo’ and he was familiar with Pabel because of his profession as a barber. He also stated that he was close enough to recognize both persons and the lighting was good.
The second person to give evidence from the witness stand for the Prosecution, was Mr. Wakely Daniel. He stated that on the day of the incident, he was also at the Elquemedo Willett Park training some athletes. He indicated to the court that when the upheaval began, he went closer to see what was transpiring to ensure that none of the athletes were involved. Daniel pointed out that Cesar Santana was bleeding and he immediately called the Police. Daniel also claimed that he knew both men very well.
The Prosecution third witness was Alexandria Huggins, a resident of Stoney Grove. Ms. Huggins, who was the girlfriend of Cesar Santana at the time of the incident, told the court that she left work and went to visit him at his workplace in Charlestown. She pointed out that they departed his workplace and journeyed to Superfoods Supermarket to pick up some groceries. Subsequently to the grocery shopping, they traveled home and she went into the bathroom.
She stated that after she exited the bathroom, she did not see him and when she looked outside she saw a red bus. She noted that shortly after, she saw someone chasing Cesar and he was running away. Ms. Huggins indicated that she went back inside, then made her way Charlestown Police Station and upon arrival, she saw Cesar with blood all over him. She told the court that he was then transported to the Alexandra Hospital.
Police officer Leon Michael also gave evidence on behalf of the Prosecution. He noted that he was on duty the night that the incident transpired. He told the court that about 5.30 pm. Cesar Santana came into the police station covered with blood. He asked him what happen and he said that he was chopped by the defendant. The officer told the court that he took him to the hospital for treatment.
In his address to the jury, Prosecutor Dane Hamilton QC indicated to them that the case was not a difficult one to return a guilty verdict. He told them that they have to take into consideration that there was no way the defendant could claim that he was defending himself because Pabel Santana was trying to escape his pursuit. He continued, “If Pabel was running away from the defendant and he was still chasing him then that cannot be considered as defending himself. Furthermore, if you are going to hit a person with a cutlass not once but three times, how can you claim self-defense if you are already in control of the situation?” The QC also noted, that the defense did not even present one single person to give evidence, on defendant’s behalf. He indicated that the defendant himself had nothing to say about what transpired.
He also warned the jury, not to take the case lightly because it was two none nationals who were involved. He said, “You might be thinking that it was Spanish persons who were involved in the incident but when things like these happen, it will automatically creep into the society where you are residing if you do not stamp it out now”. In conclusion, he urged them to be to do the right thing and return a verdict that is in favour of the Prosecution.
The defense lawyer, Mr. Chesley Hamilton also addressed the jury. He told jurors that the Prosecution’s argument was rather futile and brittle, and they had failed to prove their case beyond all reasonable doubt. Hamilton explained that the defense had nothing to prove because when the British came to our shores, they implemented the law that a person is innocent until proven guilty. In that regard he said, the accused do not have to say anything so when the Prosecution noted that the defendant did not say a word, it was his constitutional right to remain quiet if he so desires. He also pointed out to the jury, that the Prosecution stated that the defendant used a cutlass in the incident, but none of their witnesses said that the weapon was a cutlass so if they are not sure, how do they want you to be sure?
He also stated, that the identification of the weapon has no merit, because they went and asked Cesar ‘Pabel’ Santana about the weapon. He continued, “If the defendant left with the weapon and no weapon was taken from him, they did not conduct a search of his property or even ask his wife a question, how can they determine that the weapon which Cesar Santana was allegedly struck with, was actually a cutlass?” Hamilton also told the jury, that the Prosecution wanted them to believe, that the defendant just took a weapon and hit the deceased, but it arose from a fight in which stones were pelting. In closing, he urged the jury to be fair and if the evidence against his client was insufficient and inefficient, then they ought to rule in favour of the defendant and return a verdict of not guilty.
In summing up the case, her Ladyship told the jury that they have to consider a number of things in the trial which included the charges brought before the court. She indicated that the defendant was charged for wounding with intent to cause grievous body harms and unlawful wounding, but they cannot find him guilty on both charges. It’s either one or the other she elucidated. Her Ladyship also said to the jury, that they should only find the accused guilty if they were absolutely sure based on the evidence presented by the Prosecution. She also elaborated profusely on the evidence of Timothy Caines. Her Ladyship pointed out to the jury, that the lighting was good and Caines said he knew both men very well.
After deliberating for just over an hour, the jury returned with a guilty verdict of wounding with intent to cause grievous body harms. Sentencing is set for December 3, 2015.