Not guilty verdict in child murder case

| 19/01/2016 | 45 Comments
Cayman News Service

Devon Anglin

(CNS): Devon Anglin has been found not guilty for a second time for the murder of 4-year-old Jeremiah Barnes on 15 February 2010. After he delivered the verdict, Justice Charles Quin acknowledged the pain, suffering and grief of the child’s parents and that they and others in the community would be deeply disappointed that his killer has still not been brought to justice. But he said that Jeremiah’s memory would be ill-served by the court if it failed to apply the stringent rules regarding the burden of proof demanded by the courts of the Cayman Islands.

Anglin was tried and acquitted in 2011 for the shooting death of Jeremiah, who died from a gunshot wound to the head as he sat in the back seat of the family’s car at Hell Gas Station in West Bay. The bullet, which was aimed at his father, Andy Barnes, went through the driver’s open window, then through the headrest of the driver’s seat and killed the child.

The Court of Appeal overturned the not guilty verdict and ordered a retrial, which was heard by judge alone in November and December last year.

Anglin, who returned to jail following the verdict as he is serving a life sentence for the murder of Carlos Webster in 2009, was charged with the murder of Jeremiah, attempted murder of his father, Andy Barnes, who is generally acknowledged as the intended victim, and possession of an unlicensed firearm.

The murder was captured by the gas station’s CCTV and what took place is not in dispute. The point on which the case hung was the identity of the gunman.

Both of the boy’s parents, Andy and Dorlisa Barnes, were adamant as they gave their eye-witness testimony that Devon Anglin was the man who shot at the car after they had stopped to get gas that evening, both saying that they clearly saw Anglin’s face before he pulled up a bandana and, having known him well and for a long time, they immediately recognized his distinctive eyes and gait.

However, Justice Quin found that the identification was made in extremely difficult circumstances and there were too many inconsistencies in their evidence and in the various statements given to the police for him to be sure that they were correct, nor did he find that they corroborated each other, since there were differences in their accounts of events that night.

Some of Andy Barnes’ evidence, such as his description of the shooter’s clothes, was just plain wrong, Justice Quin noted. He had also at first maintained that he had seen Anglin in the car in which the shooter had arrived on the scene but later admitted that he had not.

The judge said there was also a “sharp conflict” between their testimony and that of the third eye-witness, the gas station attendant, Carlos Ebanks, who said that the gunman was wearing a Halloween mask which covered the whole of his face, so that he could not see his features or even determine if the shooter was a man or a woman. Ebanks said that when he first saw the gunman he had initially thought that it was some kind of prank because of the Halloween mask.

While a CCTV expert had testified that the shooter had been wearing a cloth bandana of some sort, Justice Quin said that, having watched the footage, it looked to the layman as though the gunman was wearing a full face mask. He also noted that Ebanks had been in a better position than either Andy or Dorlisa Barnes to see the gunman and had seen the whole incident.

Justice Quin outlined the arguments of the defence, presented by David Fisher QC, that because of a history of bad blood between Anglin and Barnes, who are members of opposing gangs, especially after the 2009 murder of Carlos Webster, that he and Dorlisa had assumed that the shooter was Anglin. The defence had argued that they had a “deeply held expectation” that if Andy Barnes was harmed, it would be at the hands of Devon Anglin.

Justice Quin also examined the evidence presented by the crown to corroborate the Barnes’ eye-witness testimony. This included gunshot residue on clothes worn by Anglin and the car he was thought to have driven to the crime scene in. However, two experts had found that there was a significant chance of innocent contamination from the armed police officers.

The crown’s case, presented by Andrew Radcliffe QC, claimed that CCTV footage, as examined by an expert in tha field, appeared to support the fact that the shooter was Devon Anglin, but the judge found that the footage was of such poor quality that the evidence was tenuous, inherently weak and not supportive of the prosecution’s case. He similarly rejected all other evidence presented by the crown and found that the case had not been proven without a doubt.

In his summation the judge noted he could not draw adverse inference from the fact that Anglin did not take the stand in his own defence because the amendment in the police law to allow the court to do that had not been passed at the time of the crime.

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Comments (45)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    How long will this currently serving “life in prison” be? In what year is he eligible for parole?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Sometimes the greatest punishment comes from within. This little boy deserved better.

    • Anonymous says:

      With parents who are unable to tell the truth about his accidental murder, what else did God save him from?

      Everyone in this country cried for justice. Twice the verdict has returned the same. The young man was acquitted. For Pete’s sake – or better, for Jeremiah and Devon Anglin’s sake’s – let’s admit that there is something fundamentally wrong with the evidence the parents gave.

      I am astounded that there were so many inconsistencies cited in the judges’ summaries and unfortunately these are inconsistencies by the parents!!!!!

      • Anonymous says:

        No such thing as accidental murder, shooting at a car full of people doesn’t qualify as accidental, point a gun at people and shoot and anyone in range is a target and likely to be shot. Doesn’t matter that you were aiming at someone else, it still makes you responsible.

      • Drone says:

        How can you make a comment like that?

        The parents were there but that doesn’t mean they would get a “clear picture” of the shooter when a shot is fired. When a driver gets “T-boned” in an accident and then asked by the Police what happened, they can either say, “I saw what happened or they didn’t see what happened. That doesn’t mean that they’re a reckless driver.

        When a shot was fired and everyone ducked in fear. Split seconds reactions at the spur of the moment. Do you think everyone leaves their house knowing when and where the next bullet will come from.

        The parents did nothing wrong other than the best that was expected of them. They’ve absolute bravery for what they have done.

        FYI commenter – Any shooter who hides behind a mask and decides to pull a trigger is a coward, not man. The parents are to commended for their bravery.

  3. Anonymous says:

    So once again we are faced with a reoccurring situation whereby the innocent was charged with a crime they didn’t commit, while the guilty goes unpunished. Or vice versa

    • Anonymous says:

      Not necessarily, and you have succumbed to an error that is common in the world of journalism which leaps from an acquittal to asking “who did do it then?”. You have drawn a conclusion from a finding of “not guilty” that is not a logical result of the acquittal. See the posts lower down on this thread about the meaning of “not guilty”. As a matter of logic we do not know who committed the crime. All we know is that the evidence, which was quite thin, was not considered by the jury enough to convict the accused.

      CNS Note: It was a judge-alone trial.

      • Anonymous says:

        Point stands with more force in a judge alone jury as they tend to be more specifically evidence focused as the ruling itself shows.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Not really surprised of the new verdict. Too many inconsistencies between the parents evidence and then the independent witness Carlos Ebanks. (Gas station attendant)

    If you live a life of crime as the father did, (I’ve know him from the time he was a juvenile delinquent) then it will come back and bite you and if it misses you directly, then unfortunately it will get your innocent children or your children’s children. The Bible speaks of this.

    Not to mention, the community as a whole will suffer dearly due to actions of a few bad people in our midst.

    Sad……… but it’s the reality of a broken society.

    • Anonymous says:

      The bible is full of garbage. It speaks of this.

      • Anonymous says:

        If you would spend time reading the bible you would see it speaks of such effect down to the third and fourth generation. You better be careful what kind of seeds you sow that you and your generation will reap. The same God and bible that all of you mock will judge you one day. Will you be able to stand !!

      • Anonymous says:

        Many atheists amongst us in the Cayman Islands these days.

        It never use to be like that.

        Who is responsible and to blame for this ?

  5. Anonymous says:

    In all criminal cases, an acquittal does not mean that the accused is innocent, it simply means the jury, or judge, considered there was not enough evidence put forward by the prosecution, taking into account the rebuttals of the defence, to establish to the very high burden of beyond reasonable doubt that the accused was guilty. The finding is “not guilty” not “innocent”.

    • Anonymous says:

      In Scotland, “not proven”.

      • Anonymous says:

        In Scotland there is still a “not guilty”. Scotland has a third option for juries “not proven” which, in modern usage, allows the jury to identify that it is not convinced that the prosecution has satisfied the (unreasonably) high burden of proof but where it is considered that the defendant has not satisfied the juries of their case as to their innocence. It is an excellent option to have available. In fact the historical provenance of “not guilty” as a later additional option to “not proven” is slightly different than the modern perception.

        • Anonymous says:

          Scotland. Third word country living off their past and lots of booze.

          • Jotnar says:

            But with a far superior legal system to England, and for that matter better education system too 🙂

            • Anonymous says:

              The Jocks drone on about having a great legal system but that is mainly because they know no-one sensible would spend the time learning the weird technical phrases they use so it can be remotely intelligible. Scots law does have some good concepts, and “not proven” is one of those but for each such example there tends to be a countervailing example of a really bad idea, for example the strict need for corroboration of witness evidence.

        • Jotnar says:

          Not proven is a great concept which we could do with here. Because quite part from sending a distinct message that the jury is not entirely convinced of the accused’s innocence, it also allows for re-prosecution if the evidence is improved – whereas not guilty shuts out that option. God only knows our prosecutors need the ability to repair mistakes if justice is to be done.

  6. Anonymous says:

    God knows…

    • Anonymous says:

      Whats so funny about “god knows”

    • Just Askin' says:

      The same God that oversaw the murder of this young child?

      • Anonymous says:

        … Who will gently lay you down one day.

        • Anonymous says:

          Or perhaps violently end my life in a random vicious painful attack, because of his “mysterious ways”.

      • Anonymous says:

        Yes, God saw it, he knows all about it, but you see whoever killed the little boy was being guided by the evil one. Both God and satan exist and whichever one you allow to guide you is the one you will obey. God gave us all a conscience and choices, if we choose evil then evil things will happen. Even evil against Persons obeying God. But the evil doer will pay dearly unless he / she seeks forgiveness. The evil person who killed little Jermiah will surely pay, here in this life and the life to come if he does not repent. God also knows if the repentance is genuine .

        • So did the little boy chose evil too? What did he do to deserve a bullet in the head? I JUST DON’T GET IT. I don’t want to be disrespectful to people who have faith, I really don’t. But how can anyone justfy horrific events like this using God and Satan as a reason why things happen. Nobody is born evil. Who ever did this took the wrong path because of social and environmental influences. The majority of murderers have troubled backgrounds or chemical inbalances in the brain. It’s got nothing to do with Satan, that’s a far too simplistic explanation for anything. If we all still believed in that we’d still be sacrificing virgins like the Aztecs used to do just in case God gets mad.

        • Just Sayin' says:

          My God is better than your God.

          • Anonymous says:

            I have a whole pantheon to choose from. That is much more fun. If you are going to sign up to one of these clubs, one with lots of gods is best.

        • Frodo says:

          This is why we need Gandalf here now!

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