Wednesday 13 November, 2019

Dead witness’ statement sinks men who beat video evidence murder case

Two St James brothers, O’Neil and O’Brian Walters, who were acquitted of a 2016 gas station murder in the parish that was captured on video which went viral, have been convicted of another shooting incident on the same day.

They were convicted in the Home Circuit Court on Thursday.

The brothers were freed of the brazen 2016 gas station incident in Glendevon, St James after video evidence turned out to be inconclusive in court.

But the brothers were implicated in the shooting and injuring of a woman, Andrea Johnson, on the same day of the gas station shooting incident.

Johnson was subsequently shot dead by unknown assailants.

However, before she was killed, she provided the police with a witness statement in relation to her initial shooting, which was used by the prosecution to secure the conviction of the brothers on shooting with intent, illegal possession of a firearm and illegal possession of ammunition charges.

The police were able to present a credible case in court, using Section 31D of the Evidence Act, which allows the use of witness statements in circumstances where the witnesses themselves have been subsequently killed.

With the Act allowing the witness statement to be admitted in trials, the defence, in fact, has no opportunity to cross-examine and discredit the crown witness who was subsequently killed.

In essence, had the witness been still alive, the defence could have sought to challenge both the facts and presentation by the witness, with success in either regard likely to lead to an acquittal.

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