Crown’s case undermined in murder

| 21/05/2015
Cayman News Service

Jose Sanchez with junior defence counsel Guy Dillaway-Perry and prison officers at a visit to the scene, May 2015

(CNS): A failure on the part of the police to investigate the case properly, an inoperable weapon, allegations of witness tampering and significant inconsistencies in evidence led to arguments by defence lawyers this week that the case against Jose “Peto” Sanchez for the murder of Solomon “Solly” Webster should be thrown out. A gun expert confirmed last week that the weapon found on the property in Miss Daisy Lane was in a very poor condition and would not fire.

A live round that would have fit the gun was found at the scene and a spent cartridge that came from it but no one was able to say when that was fired. On the night of the killing, the RCIPS used special firearms dogs at the scene but had not found either the gun or the actual bullet that had been fired into Webster’s leg. The gun was recovered two days later with the help of a witness who said he found it on the night of the shooting, just ten minutes after, and hidden the weapon. He said he had not told investigators where it was that night because he had waited to speak to the lead detective in confidence.

But the defence’s main argument about the gun was the fact it could not be fired — evidence that came from the crown’s own expert firearms witness, Alan Greenspan.

“The more you hear from the prosecution’s position, the less there is an explanation for the way the gun is, and frankly that is just not good enough,” said Mark Heywood QC, Sanchez’ leading defence counsel

The court had heard that when Sanchez arrived at Miss Daisy Lane, West Bay, on the night of the murder last September, he was wearing only shorts and was carrying his phone and a bottle of rum. There was no evidence that he had a gun then or at any time during the day, when he had been at a boat party.

Cayman News Service

Jose Sanchez arrives at the scene for a court visit with prison guards and lead detective on the Webster murder Dennis Walkington

During submissions to the court Heywood pointed out that Sanchez had not even wanted to go into his own yard as he was trying to get Rachelyn Bush, the woman who have given him a ride, to spend the night with him. Sanchez had only left her car at all because he had been dragged out by Shaquille Bush, who was already at the yard and who had fled from the scene after Webster was shot, while Sanchez had remained at the scene until he heard the sirens.

The witnesses who said they saw Sanchez with a weapon all gave conflicting evidence and Sanchez claims it was not him but Bush who had the gun and he had fired it during the fight that Webster had also found himself involved in.

Despite the obvious implications that Bush could have been a suspect, the court had heard from one of the investigating officers that Bush was never investigated. He was from the very start treated purely as a witness, and a reluctant one at that. His home was never searched, he was never tested for gunshot residue or his DNA taken. None of the people Sanchez was with before he went to Miss Daisy Lane were ever questioned by police to see if he had a weapon.

During the course of the crown’s case the court also heard evidence of witness tampering. Rachelyn Bush had spoken of the lies she was pressured to tell that she had seen Sanchez with a gun and he was the one who shot Webster – all of which, she said, was untrue — and she had, despite threats, refused to say what her baby father had requested. Nevertheless, the exact words she was pressured to say were given in evidence by David Parchment, the main witness in the case, who claims to have seen Sanchez with the weapon.

Arguing for the case to be stopped and his client acquitted, Heywood said the crown’s case was simply not good enough. It was “inconceivable that there is no primary evidence at all”, he added, as he pointed to the catalogue of problems with the case against Sanchez and the weakness of the police probe, saying there had been “no enquiry at all”.

Arguing that there was a case to answer by Sanchez, Director of Public Prosecution Cheryl Richards QC said that Webster was shot and suffered an injury, so the bullet must have come from the gun in evidence.

Two people described seeing Sanchez with a gun and a third with something black in his hand and the inference “is inescapable” that this must have been the weapon in Sanchez’ hand that shot the deceased. The crown stated that no one knows how the gun got into the area, what the bullet hit, where it is or what happened to it after it was fired. Richards said, however, that just because the bullet has not been found to prove when the gun was shot, it does not discredit witness testimony.

She said nothing had been heard regarding David Parchment’s character, evidence, or background to suggest that he was part of a conspiracy and there was no direct evidence of contact between him and Rachelyn Bush’s baby father, who she claims told her to lie about what she saw.

Justice Charles Quin, who is hearing the case alone without a jury, is expected to deliver his ruling in the case Thursday morning.

Webster died on the night he was shot after the bullet penetrated his femoral artery. The Special Olympic athlete and keen sportsman, who had learning disabilities, lived in Miss Daisy Lane but it is not clear how he ended up in the fight between Sanchez and Bush.

CNS Intern Jaida Alexandre contributed to this report.

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