Two accused men set free in murder trial

By:St. Clair Sazam Hull

(CHARLESTOWN NEVIS)-The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, Nevis Circuit continued its sitting on Tuesday, November 8, 2016 before Her Ladyship, Justice Lorraine Williams.

The first matter to be heard was that of Dexter Somersall and Craig Halliday who are jointly charged for murder. Both men pled not guilty to the allegation.

According to the Director of Public Prosecutions, on the evening of January 28, 2008, the accused men murdered Leon Westerman at Trailas Bar in Charlestown.

The Prosecution’s first witness was Jean Simmons, who was the girlfriend of Somersall at the time of the murder. According to Simmons, on January 27, 2008, Asim Parris traveled over to St. Kitts and met with Somerall at his home at Prickle Pier Alley. She indicated that they conversed for a while, but she did not hear any of the conversation. She noted that Parris left and came back shortly thereafter with Craig Halliday. Simmonds said that Somerall told her, that he was going downstairs to have a meeting with the boys. She stated that the meeting occurred but she didn’t hear anything.

She indicated, that subsequently to the meeting, Somersall came back upstairs and asked her if she was working the following day. She told the Court that she told him, “No I am not working” and he said to her that they were going over to Nevis. Simmons noted that she told Somersall, that they don’t have any trance so how were they going to get around and Somersall replied, “he will get a rental”. The witness said that they slept together and in the morning, Dexter got up and left. She said upon his return, they prepared to travel to Nevis.

The witness told the Court, that they got into the car and while they were on the Sea Bridge, Somersall received a phone call. She said that she asked him who it was and he responded and said, “Craig Halliday” and the plan is to throw in two of Westerman’s brothers. Simmons said she knew both of his brothers from living in Nevis. She also stated that Dexter told her, that one of his brothers had stabbed Asim Parris. Additionally, she told the Court that Somersall told her that they needed somewhere to stay when the reach to Nevis and at that point, she called the owner of Sea Spawn Guest House and booked a room.

She indicated, that after they would have settled down at the guest house, Dexter told her that they should go down to Sunshine to have a drink and she said okay. Simmons pointed out, that upon their arrival at Sunshines, they saw Leon Westerman with a white girl drinking. She noted that Dexter said, “If they don’t get who they come to get, whoever they get in the family, they are going to take them out to send a message to the family”. She told the Court, that both she and Dexter departed Sunshines and went on the pier to pick up Asim and Criag along with a next guy whose name she was unaware of.

Ms. Simmons said that Asim was sitting directly behind her on the passenger side, the unknown guy was in the middle and Craig Halliday was sitting behind Dexter the driver. She said that Asim had a bag pack, took out guns, and handed one to both men at the back. The witness noted, that Dexter drove through Low Street a few times, but nobody was on the street. She said that Dexter turned to the guys and told them, “Gravo is on the beach and if they don’t get anyone, they are going to take out Gravo in order to send a message to the family”.

She stated that they drove back to the beach and saw a police car and a policeman. Simmons indicated, that Dexter parked the car and was monitoring the movements of Gravo. She said Gravo and the white girl left and went inside of a car and drove off and Dexter immediately drove off behind them. Simmons stated, that Gravo and the white girl drove straight to Enrique’s Bar, and Dexter drove into Superfoods parking lot and parked. She said that Leon and the girl came out of Enrique and drove back towards Charlestown and Dexter followed them. She said they made a stop at Octagon and they themselves did likewise.

The witness said that Leon and his companion bought a Guinness, walked through the alley and the car that was driven by Dexter Somersall, drove between the Octagon and Café Des Arts. She said the guys at the back came out and ran through the alley. Simmons indicated, that she and Dexter stopped by the roadside, got out of the car and walked into Trailor’s Bar. She said that Leon and the white girl were there. Simmons told the Court, that shortly after their entrances, the guys whom they had let out of the car, came into the bar and started shooting at Leon Westerman. She said at that point, Dexter grabbed her hands and pulled her out of the bar; they entered the car and drove back to Sea Spawn.

Ms. Simmons said that Dexter dropped her off at Sea Spawn, told her that he was going for the boys but returned and said he did not see them. She said that Dexter told her, that he saw police searching and he pretended to be urinating. The witness told the Court, that she was very scared when they slept together on the night in question and they hardly said anything to each other. She also indicated, that Somersall told her that she is not ready for the gangster life that he was living. Simmons said that the following morning, Dexter told her that police have the boys, but they could not have charged them because they did not find them with anything.

Simmons told the Court, that the relationship with Dexter was a horrible one. She noted, “The relationship was bad, I lived in hell, I couldn’t keep any friends and couldn’t go anywhere by myself”. She said that often times she told Dexter that she would go to the police and tell them what happened and he told her if that happens he would kidnap her daughter and torture her to death. She indicated that when she visited the police in 2012, she was badly beaten by Dexter and as a result her kidneys suffered from internal bleeding. Simmons said she had to travel to St. Maarten to receive treatment.

During cross-examination, defense lawyer Dr. Henry Browne QC asked the witness if she remember giving a statement to the police in 2012. Simmons said that she did not remember giving a statement to the police but when the lawyer read the statement to her she said it came back to mind that she did give a statement. When she was asked if she signed the statement, she said that she signed but the statement was not read over to her. Dr. Browne questioned Simmons as to what she had told the police about Asim Parris having no bags when they picked him up. Simmons said that she never told the police anything about bags and that they were lying on her.

Defense lawyer, Mr. Chesley Hamilton also cross-examined Simmons. Hamilton asked the witness if she remember at any time doing a video recording in 2014. Simmons said she did a recording in the office of former Commissioner of Police, Mr. CG Walwyn. The lawyer told Simmons, that the recording was purposely done to see how well she had learned the statement which gave in 2012. Hamilton also asked Simmons about the number plate of the vehicle that Westerman and the white girl traveled in and Simmons said, she could not remember the number plate. Hamilton told Simmons that it was rather strange that they trailed a vehicle for hours, but can’t remember the number on the plate or the colour of the number plate.

The Prosecution’s second witness was Mr. Austin Lescott. Lescott pointed out, that on the night of the murder at about 12:05 pm; he was driving into Charlestown from Pinney’s area. He indicated that when he reached close to Chapel Street, he saw a few persons ahead of him in the vicinity of Evelyn’s Drugs Store. Lescott told the Court, that he drove and parked up and recognized officer Gordon and he saw a person laying in the road. The witness said that the person was groaning and crying and he saw blood. He noted that him and Gordon lifted Westerman into his pickup and transported him to the hospital.

Ms. Isabel Palmer, owner of Traila’s Bar also gave evidence on behalf of the Prosecution. Palmer said that on the night of the incident, Westerman came into her bar with two other persons and ordered a chicken. She told the Court that she gave Westerman the chicken and he went outside and came back in and ordered another chicken. Palmer said when she went to the back to prepare the chicken she heard gunshots. She stated that she stayed on a corner and while she was there a person passed her with a gun in their hand and a woman’s bag over their shoulder. She said a few minutes after; she went upstairs and saw the two persons who were with Westerman. Palmer said that they were crying and she offered them some water to drink.

In his address to the jury, Prosecutor Dane Hamilton QC, told the jury that the case was about the testimony of Jean Simmons. He indicated that Simmons knew Somersall very well, and there was no reason for her to lie on him. Hamilton warned the jury, to weigh and examine both sides evidence before coming to a decision. In closing, he told the jury that if the Prosecution’s case was satisfactory to them, then they should bring back a guilty verdict against both men. He told them to allow their consciences to guide them to their decision.

Dr. Henry Browne also addressed the jury. He told the jury, that the Prosecution’s case was one of noise, nothing and nonsense.  Browne indicated to the jurors, that a case as such should not have been before the Court, and the Prosecution owes them an apology. He said that the Prosecution’s main witness, Ms. Jean Simmons, can’t be trusted not even if you wanted to trust her. He stated that Simmons is a pathological, compulsive liar who has a motive to get back at Dexter Somerall even if it means to tell endless lies on him. Browne noted, that the only truth Simmons probably told from the witness box was her name and even that he is not certain about. He urged the jury to discard and disregard the nonsense that the Prosecution had put before them.

Mr. Chesley Hamilton also addressed the jury panel. He said that the Prosecution wants them to make a decision based on the evidence of Jean Simmons. He told them if  that is the situation, a not guilty verdict must be returned because they were dealing with a liar. Hamilton said, that it seems as though it was in the nature of Simmons to lie. He indicated that Simmons is so lie, that she lied on the police when she said that the police lied on her. In closing, he said that he expected a verdict of not guilty.

In summing-up the case, Her Ladyship told the jury, that they ought to weigh the evidence on both sides, but they should only return a guilty verdict based on the strength of the Prosecution’s case. She pointed out, that the accused had nothing to prove and was entirely innocent in the trial. She stated that if the Prosecution did not make them feel sure, then they ought to rule in favour of the defendant. Her Ladyship also warned the jury, to be careful when examining the evidence that was given by the witnesses. She indicated, that evidence may have discrepancies and inconsistencies but witnesses can give evidence in different wording. She told the jury that when that happens; they must consider the witnesses intelligence.

The jury deliberated for just over an hour, and brought back a not guilty verdict in favor of both defendants.

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