by JP Schwmon #SituationUpdates
As far as the defense counsel in the current Ashelle Morgan, Karim Nelson and Cornelius John trial is concerned neither of their clients have been presented with a case to answer.
“In relation to Ms. Morgan there’s evidence from the witnesses that she was identified on the scene but when you look at the charge for which she was called to answer, the question is how tenuous is the evidence in that regard?” Duane Daniel, Senator Morgan’s lawyer said as a preface to his submission before the presiding magistrate, Bertie Pompey.
Daniel presented the Mesopotamia Magistrate’s Court with his speaking notes while he outlined several points that appeared to the defense that went against the prosecution’s case.
Using the words of the investigating officer, Corporal 858 Henry Hoyte, Daniel reminded the Court that “the only evidence against Ms. Morgan comes from Mr. Cornelius John… there is no other witness in relation to her having a gun or making any threats.”
The senator’s defense attorney further noted that of the witnesses called to bring evidence only two of them “at best” could testify directly “in relation to the event and Ms. Morgan’s presence on the scene.”
Auxiliary Police Constable Rochel Franklyn, the virtual complainant Cornelius John’s next door neighbor, “claimed to identify Ms. Morgan on her way to and from the scene”. Nicole John, Cornelius John’s wife, was the second witness who placed Senator Morgan at the scene. Neither of them testified that they either saw Ashelle Morgan with a gun or heard her threaten the virtual complainant.
Although his client did not submit a written statement to the police when invited to do so she “denied having a gun, denied making any threats towards Mr. John and denied telling anyone to shoot anyone,” when she spoke with the police investigator.
Daniel pointed to her spotless criminal record as a key indicator of “the likelihood of Ms. Morgan to commit an offence. She is to be taken as person of good character and that stands her in good stead.”
Morgan’s reputation and occupation when coupled with the fact that public figures such as politicians can easily get a licensed firearm here makes it unlikely that the senator “would resort to the risk of having an unlicensed firearm,” Daniel argued.
Daniel then turned his attention to Cornelius John’s integrity. He reasoned: in order for the Court to consider convicting his client, the Mesopotamia Magistrate’s Court “must place all its weight in the credibility of Mr. John’s evidence. Which then begs the question – how credible is Mr. John?”
John testified that he was not a violent man and attempted to disabuse the defense’s notion that his gunshot wound was the end result of a domestic dispute in which he was the increasingly violent aggressor.
In an effort to discredit John, Daniel listed several pieces of evidence that emerged during the course of the trial. His list included: a copy of a previous conviction for domestic abuse involving his first wife, testimony regarding threats John allegedly made about chopping off his wife’s neck and sacrificing her to the devil and “a Station Dairy entry of a call by Ms. Morgan that Mr. John was making threats on April 13, 2021 and she needed the assistance of the police.”
John also testified that “the tall guy” kicked him of his perch as he, John, was speaking to the trio of uninvited guests to his home on April 13. John further described being stomped about his torso, which caused him to lose control of his bowels mid-attack.
Daniel, in his submission, pointed to Dr. Charles Woods’ – the medial expert – evidence which, under cross examination clearly noted that John presented no other complaints outside of the gunshot wound to his left leg.
“For the varied and many instances sited herein, Mr. John, upon whose shoulders the entire prosecution’s case rests, is not to be trusted or treated as a witness of truth. The evidence, in relation to a no case submission, is therefore tenuous and unsafe.
“And even if your Honor is not with me on that point and were to move in the natural course of this onto the further stage even without the defense being called upon to give evidence, I submit most respectfully to this honorable Court, that in the alternative the prosecution has failed to discharge its burden, to satisfy its burden to the requisite degree beyond reasonable doubt that Ms. Morgan is guilty of the offence as charged.
“The evidence of the sole witness, Mr. John is mindlessly unreliable and the prosecution’s case when taken at its highest fails to discharge that burden,” Daniel concluded.
Ronald “Ronnie” Marks, Nelson’s lawyer, described his task – while submitting his client’s no case to answer application – as “an even easier one than the first defendant.”
Marks noted that there was no evidence before the Court to tie his client to the incident. This, despite the 3 written statements Cornelius John gave to the police, the 5 written statements Nicole John gave and the 3 statements given by APC Franklyn. Taking into consideration that “these are the only 3 persons who are able to assist the Court in identifying who was this tall man in a mask and a hat. No one places Karim Nelson on the scene….
“The identification evidence is totally and completely absent from this case. There is no nexus between this tall man with glasses, a cap, a jacket and a mask on.
“I told my friend Kenton Chance earlier there is just as much evidence against him as they have against Karim because he is a tall fella who wear glasses and have on a cap. And it is true there is just as much evidence against him as there is against Mr. Nelson!” Marks told the Court.
Marks continued to detail the challenges faced by the “so-called eye witness”. He reminded the Court of the material timeframe within which the incident was said to have occurred. He noted that APC Franklyn had to use her mobile phone powered flashlight to take a look at John’s wounded leg. Marks also reminded the Court that conditions set by the recent volcanic eruptions would have “further obscured visibility.”
“The prosecution having closed its case, has failed to put Karim Nelson on the scene and as a consequence he has no case to answer before this honorable Court.”
Magistrate Bertie Pompey deferred his decision on the submissions to Thursday November 18 at 9:30 a.m. after entertaining St. Lucia’s Deputy Director of Public Prosecution S. Stephen Brette’s submission.
Deputy DPP Brette conceded that no direct evidence of Nelson being on the scene was presented in his case. The special prosecutor implored the Court to consider “other pieces of circumstantial evidence” that was meant to tie Nelson to the incident.
“We have to concede that there was no direct evidence of identification of Mr. Nelson on the scene. However we are asking the Court to consider other pieces of circumstantial evidence.
“Your Honor, I daresay, at the risk of being chastised by this honorable Court, we are constrained to make that concession because … we were not given the opportunity” to call Vernon Adams as the prosecution’s final witness.