North Side robbery trial begins

Trial began in Grand Court last week for two men charged with the 19 January, 2007, robbery of Chisholm’s Supermarket in North Side.

Jerolle Lavert Edwards and Christopher Kelvin Ebanks pleaded not guilty to robbery and not guilty to possession of an imitation firearm – a flare gun – with intent to commit the robbery. The men chose trial by judge alone.

Crown Counsel Nicola Moore told Justice Ingrid Mangatal the Crown’s case was that Rivers was the robber and Edwards the get-away driver.

The first witness was Ms Sheena Ebanks, who said she was sitting at the cash register that Friday afternoon when she saw someone come up from the beach side. He walked across the windows and came in. He was wearing a red bandana and a camouflage jacket or trench coat, black gloves and a baseball cap. She could not see any part of his skin.

Ms Ebanks said the person was holding a gun painted black with some bright orange on it. He pointed the gun at her and said ‘Give me the money.’ She told him, ‘Take it’ and pushed her chair back so he could have access to the cash register.

He took money out and some fell on the floor. He told her to pick it up and she did, putting it on the counter. He then asked for cigarettes and she said ‘What kind?’ He told her Benson, so she took a carton and threw it across the counter. He took it and left, going toward the beach.

Her grandmother, who was in a chair behind the machine that keeps meet and vegetable patties warm, got up and asked if she was OK and called 911.

Asked about the robber’s speech, Ms Ebanks said the voice was male and sounded like a person that came from West Bay. She explained she is a native Caymanian and people in each district have their own way of speaking.

Mrs. Rhoda Erena Ebanks told the court she was sitting in a chair behind the patty machine doing a puzzle when she heard Sheena, her granddaughter, scream. She looked up and saw a person standing by the counter. She described his appearance, but said she could not hear what he said. She saw him take the money from the cash register and get the carton of Benson and Hedges.

Miss Erena said the robber took roughly $400 and the incident occurred around 3.30 pm. After the robber left, she got up, went to the counter and got the phone. She went to the window to see if there was a get-away car, but she didn’t see any. She called 911 and, while she was talking, a regular customer came in.

Regular customer

That customer, Mr. Norman Brown, was the next witness. He told the court he was riding his bicycle, going east toward Chisholm’s, when a person ran out of the bush on the beach side. He had a red kerchief around his face, a dark cap and a green army jacket. He was holding a flip cellular phone and taking on it.

Mr. Brown said the man ran into him and he tried to swerve away. The man said, ‘Do not tell anyone you see me.’

Asked about the voice, Mr. Brown said he was born in Jamaica and had been in Cayman over 10 years. The voice sounded to him like Jamaican from the way the man said ‘Don’t tell nobody you see me.’

Mr. Brown said he continued riding and kept looking back. A small white car crossed him. Looking back, he saw the car stop and the person jump in.

He continued to Chisholm’s and went in. Miss Erena was standing by the cash register and Sheena was sitting, crying. He asked what happened and she said somebody had robbeed her. He asked if it was a guy with a red kerchief and army camouflage jacket. Told yes, he said that guy had jut run into him down the road.

Then he saw the car coming from the west. He told Sheena that was the car he had seen. Sheena said it was a Dodge Neon.

Miss Ebanks had already given this evidence, saying the car was an older version and she knew the make and model from seeing cars around. She also saw two persons in the car but was unable to say who they were. She was unable to get a licence number.

Cross examination

Mr. Brown was cross-examined by Attorney John Furniss, who represents Christopher Ebanks. He said the person he met on the road was about five feet 10 inches tall. When he got into the car it was on the passenger side. When the car came back, he could not see if the man was still in the passenger seat.

Questioned by the judge, Mr. Brown said the car was left-hand drive.

Three police officers also gave evidence about their various encounters with a Dodge Neon as they responded to reports of the robbery.

Sergeant Antonio Hanna said he was driving a marked police vehicle, using blue lights and siren, and heading to North Side when he observed a white Neon headed toward George Town. The passenger was not wearing a shirt.

He said he pulled near and signalled for the car to pull over but it didn’t. As the car passed Breakers it made a right turn into a dirt road. He followed and observed when the car appeared to overturn, ending upright and facing the opposite direction.

The driver climbed out of the back windscreen, which was broken. Mr. Hanna said he shouted at the man, who came out onto the rear hood and then fell off. The man got up, turned away and ran toward the bushes, but Mr. Hanna saw his face for a brief second. The man was slim, 5 feet nine or 10 inches tall, with hair about three inches high.

Backpack

Then the passenger climbed out of a window and fell down. He wasn’t wearing a shirt. Mr. Hanna saw his face about one and a half seconds. The man had a dark backpack in his hand. He stumbled, dropped the backpack and ran into the bushes.

Mr. Hanna said he started to follow, but then stopped because it was unsafe and because of the thick bush. He waited for other officers, then went to the police station where he looked at photographs in an Intelligence Database.

He said he recognised the photo of a man as the one he had seen coming out of the passenger side with the backpack. It was Jarolle Edwards.

Edwards’ attorney, Mrs. Keva Reid, asked why Mr. Hanna was unable to catch the suspect. The officer said he had to proceed with caution; he had not seen a firearm, but did not know if the suspect had one on his person.

He denied seeing a name on the backpack that led him to look for a person by name in the photo database.

Another officer told the court he looked into the vehicle and saw a green camouflage jacket, red scarf and black gun.

On Monday, the court was scheduled to hear from an expert witness about DNA found on various items recovered.

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