Christopher Kelvin Ebanks faces a life jail term after being found guilty last week of the January 2007 robbery of Chisholm’s supermarket in North Side.
Grand Court Justice Ingrid Mangatal said she was satisfied Ebanks was the man that walked into the supermarket armed with an imitation firearm, before making off with about $400 and a carton of cigarettes.
Ebanks’ co-accused, Jerolle Lavert Edwards, the man accused of driving the getaway car in the heist, was found not guilty after the judge said there was not enough evidence to convict him.
Edwards cracked his knuckles, smiled and offered a handshake to his attorney, Keva Reid, before he walked free from court.
Ebanks, 21, is already serving a 10 year sentence over a 2007 armed robbery in West Bay, and now faces a life sentence under a section of the Penal Code that gives judges the option of imposing a the maximum term if someone is convicted of a second indictable offence.
Witnesses said Ebanks stormed into the store armed with a gun (later found to be a flare gun), wearing a camouflage jacket, a yellow cap and with a bandana over his face.
Ebanks was seen getting into a white Dodge Neon that later crashed on a dirt road during a police chase in Breakers. Two men in the car escaped after climbing out of the car’s windows and fleeing into bush land.
Items recovered from the scene matched eyewitness accounts of Ebanks’ clothing and a DNA expert later matched DNA on some of the items with Ebanks’ DNA profile. Among those items were a yellow cap, a camouflage jacket and a glove.
A DNA expert said the chances of the DNA on the cap belonging to someone else were one in 280 trillion. The odds of the DNA on the cap belonging to someone else were one in 18 million. A cigarette butt on the floor of the car also matched Ebanks’ DNA. The chances of the DNA belonging to another person was one in 35 quadrillion, the court was told.
A bag found at the scene that witnesses said the second man dropped as he fled was later found to be Edwards’. But the judge said that just because the bag was at the scene did not prove Edwards was there.
As no other witnesses had offered a clear description of the driver of the car, the case against Edwards came down to an identification made by an officer that was at the crash scene, Justice Mangatal said.
The officer said he got a look at the man’s face for about 1.5 seconds, but Mrs. Reid questioned the reliability of his brief identification, questioning whether the dust from the crash could have settled by then and whether the officer had just concluded it was Edwards after learning the bag belonged to him.
Handing down the not guilty verdict against Edwards, the judge said she could not be sure of the identification, which she described as ‘a fleeting glance in difficult circumstances’.
‘The most that can be said is there are suspicious circumstances but that is not sufficient evidence to convict,’ she said.
Ebanks is due to be sentenced Thursday on the charges of robbery and possession of an imitation firearm.