(CNS): An investigation carried out by the Bermuda Police Service for the RCIPS into allegations that Cayman police officers supplied a woman in the witness protection programme with drugs found no evidence that this was true — a fact that was brought to light in the Court of Appeal this week and which the defence lawyers for Raziel Omar Jeffers in his appeal against a manslaughter conviction used to try to further discredit the main witness in the case.
Whatever the results of this appeal, Jeffers will remain in jail with life sentences for two murder convictions, one for gunning down gang rival Damion Ming in March 2010 and the other for the murder of Marcus Ebanks in 2009, both of which were unsuccessfully appealed.
The key witness in all three of his trials was Megan Martinez, Jeffers’ ex-girlfriend and the mother of his child. But where her testimony in the two murder trials was critical, there was also supporting evidence, whereas defence counsel Tom Price QC described her testimony in the manslaughter conviction for the shooting death of ‘numbers man’ Marcus Duran in 2010 as “fundamental”.
Martinez was placed in the witness protection programme by the RCIPS for five years, but she was dropped from the programme in the summer of 2015 for non-compliance with the rules and had subsequently made allegations that the police officers and other officials dealing with her had been supplying her with drink and drugs.
However, ‘Operation Bermuda’ had found no evidence that these allegations were true, and Price said that making such allegations after being dropped from the programme “shows what kind of a person we’re dealing with” and that she had been willing to manipulate people to get back on, which could be seen as fresh evidence in the case.
Price also noted that the defence lawyer in the trial, Brian O’Neill QC, had not been supplied with Martinez’ full psychiatric report and had only been given a redacted 14-page report. Because of this, Price said, O’Neill “had some information but not all” and had therefore conducted cross-examination of the witness “with one hand tied behind his back”.
However, the redacted report had outlined her previous relationships with Robert Bush and Damion Ming, both of whom had been members of the Logswood Gang (and therefore rivals to Jeffers’ gang) who had both been murdered in gang-related shootings. It had also outlined her troubled youth and her use of drugs, describing her as “deviant and uncontrollable”, and had reported on her reliance on the witness programme as a means of support for herself and her child, paying for food, clothing, accommodation and education expenses.
Under cross-examination, Martinez had denied nothing and had been frank about her past and her circumstances at the time. However, Price argued that in a “her word against him” trial, it was important for the jury to get a full picture. “That’s a peak you want to climb to,” he said, claiming the redacted report only got to “base camp” and that she was “even worse”.
Arguing for the prosecution, Andrew Radcliffe QC, said that all the basic information about Martinez, which was used for cross-examination, was in the 14-page report — the financial assistance, the allegations of dishonesty, her past — and said you could “max out on disclosure”.
“Simple repetition serves no one,” he said, noting that it was unlikely that the chief justice, who heard the trial, would have allowed it anyway.
Category: Local News