By JP Schwmon #SituationUpdates
A written statement said to be, signed by Assistant Director of Public Prosecution Karim Nelson and which implicates him on April 13, 2021, nonfatal shooting of Cornelius John was recently published on social media.
The post appeared on social activist Adriana King’s Facebook profile several hours after S. Stephen Brette – St. Lucia’s Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions – closed the prosecution’s cases against Nelson and Deputy House Speaker Ashelle Morgan.
King, who is currently on suspension from her teaching job as she awaits her day in Court, supposedly captioned the two paged document: “Why is the prosecutor not putting in evidence the statement of Karim Nelson admitting that he discharged his gun at Mr. John in John’s yard?”
We reached out to Nelson’s lawyer, Ronald Marks for his response. He told us:
“It is not a caution statement and not admissible evidence, it cannot be included as evidence. It’s hearsay evidence at best.”
The statement detailed the circumstances that led its alleged author to accompany Senator Morgan, in the presence of his “part-time driver” Vernon Adams, onto John’s property that fated evening.
A WhatsApp messaged plea for help, the witness allegedly noted, provoked his concern for his “friend and colleague, Ashelle Morgan.”
The message stated: “Hey I need some help. This man down here was threatening my life and also threatening to kill his wife because she went out to do so [sic] relief work with me today. He is outside her house now with a cutlass threatening to kill her.
“I called Calliaqua Police but they so lackluster with stuff like this. Can you assist please?”
The alleged witness continued to detail his direct reactions to the note. He claimed to have “immediately voice called her via WhatsApp.” At this point he learnt that the Calliaqua based “non-commissioned officer” was insisting that Senator Morgan and the hitherto unnamed wife “would have to come to the station to make a report.”
Nelson allegedly left Calder Ridge and his volcano relief efforts and “drove towards Diamond, with great haste.” According to the statement, when he arrived at Senator Morgan’s house, “the lights were off but she was peeping through the crack of her front door. She appeared to me to be terrified, as I heard her call out several times: ‘who is there?!’
Having heard her “grave concerns” for the safety of the neighbor whose husband was threatening “to cut off the woman’s neck… we decided to go to her home to check on her.
“Me, Ashelle and Vernon walked down a path and I recognized a house belonging to Cpl 6 Alexander. … someone informed me he wasn’t home.
“We proceeded along the path and we got to a structure that appeared to be an unfinished building. Ashelle told me that that was the house.”
After a brief exchange with “a man sitting under the unfinished house in an open area downstairs…. Ashelle then came closer to where I was. The man began to curse her….
“He also kept saying that he was a living dead, while he was cursing. He then got up from where he was sitting and started to move towards us. I saw the outline of what appeared to be a cutlass in one of his hands.
“He continued in a menacing way. I moved slightly forward because I thought he was targeting Ashelle. He continued coming towards us, as a result I pulled my Glock 23 pistol from my waist and fired one round in the direction of his leg.
“He stopped advancing and went on the ground and held his leg. He started to say: ‘Boy, alyuh fxxking shoot me in me foot. Shoot me in me head. I is a living dead.”
After that the witness purports to have “left and walked Ashelle back to her house because she appeared traumatized. I then reported the matter to the Commissioner of Police and Deputy Commissioner of Police.”
Nelson, allegedly, summed up this statement with a declaration, “I do not know the gentleman… neither do I know his wife…. I did not attack the man on that night and only responded with my firearm out of a genuine belief that that response was the only reasonable action to avert any injury to myself and to the others with me.
“I did not kick, or box the man at any point on the night in question. Ashelle did not have a firearm and did not put any firearm to his face and tell him that she would shoot him if he called her name.”
Meanwhile John’s lawyer, Kay Bacchus-Baptiste is of the view that the statement was wrongfully excluded from the prosecution’s case against Nelson.
“That is a most crucial part of the case; the fact that he was there and discharged his firearm.
“Although I was not in court today. I understand that the Prosecutor made an application to summon the third man, the missing person, the ghost – Vernon Adams – whose statement would squarely put Karim Nelson on the scene discharging his firearm.
“It is my understanding that Vernon was told to come to come and did not come so it’s a perfectly logical application for the prosecution to make.
“The Magistrate erred in not permitting the summons and therefore unduly fettered the prosecution’s case.
“I just hope that the Magistrate would recognize his error and do the right thing,” she told ANN in an exclusive interview.
Bacchus-Baptiste holds a watching brief in this particular matter. As such she is permitted to observe the inner workings of the trial.
She further noted that the statement could have been introduced as an exhibit when the investigating officer was presenting his evidence in chief.
“They can get it in by referring to it. Ask the police officer what his investigation showed. It’s not hearsay,” John’s lawyer explained.
Additionally the structure of the statement satisfies at least two conditions set out in Section 143 Subsection 2 of the Criminal Procedure Code, Chapter 172 of the Laws of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Revised Edition 2009, Bacchus-Baptiste supplied.