Guilty in killing of Brian Rankine
William McLaughlin Martinez, 32, was told Monday that he will spend the rest of his life in Northward Prison after a jury found him guilty of the gruesome murder of 20-year-old Brian Rankine-Carter.
A 12-member jury took just over five hours to unanimously declare that Martinez, 32, was responsible for 48 blows – probably inflicted with a machete and an ice pick – that killed Mr. Rankine in May 2008, almost decapitating him and leaving his body a messy, bloody pulp.
Martinez stood with his head upright, facing the jury, as they returned to the courtroom to hand down their verdict late Monday afternoon.
When the jury foreman read out the single verdict – guilty – Martinez bowed his head forward and cast his eyes downward, before slumping into his chair.
He was told to stand up as Grand Court Justice Alexander Henderson briefly addressed him.
‘Mr. Martinez, the jury has found you guilty,’ Justice Henderson said. ‘I therefore sentence you to the only sentence permitted by law. I sentence you to imprisonment for life.’
The sentence brings to a close a case that rocked and outraged a community with the gory details thrown up in the trial.
But one question that was never asked – and which the community may never hear an answer to – is why Martinez did what he did.
Martinez didn’t give evidence in the trial and, after his conviction, was not offered any chance to address the court by Justice Henderson.
Police rushed Martinez out of the court so quickly that pursuing reporters didn’t have a chance to put a microphone in front of Martinez’s face.
Detective Chief Inspector Peter Kennett, the man in charge of the probe, said Martinez had been convicted on ‘significant and irrefutable evidence’ in what he described as a ‘vicious’ murder.
The evidence Mr. Kennett was referring to include a hat with Martinez’ DNA on it, found under Mr. Rankine’s body at the murder scene. It also included blood matching the dead man that was found all over the passenger side of a work van where Martinez’s co-worker and Crown witness Jason Hinds said the defendant was sitting.
Mr. Rankine’s blood was also found on Martinez’s boots. An expert witness said the blood splatter patterns on the boots meant they had been within 50cm – 1.5 meters from the blood source. Mr. Rankine’s blood was also found on Martinez’s wallet.
Mr. Kennett – who defence attorneys earlier claimed had ‘taken the flack’ for blunders by other police officers in the case – promised to address those failings during a brief statement to waiting media.
‘There were certain issues raised during the trial concerning police procedures and they will be subject to a review,’ Mr. Kennett said.
‘Our thoughts go to Brian’s family at this time and hope the verdict can bring some closure to their distress,’ he said.
A chilling crime
Brian Rankine’s naked and mutilated corpse was found in pools of blood at a parking lot on McField Lane, George Town, on the night of Friday, 16 May.
A pathologist that performed a post-mortem examination, Dr. Bruce Hyma, counted 48 individual wounds on Mr. Rankine’s body. One of them almost severed his spinal cord, while another went through the dead man’s skull, into his brain.
Among the other injuries, Mr. Rankine’s left earlobe was cut off in the attack; his jaw bone was crushed in multiple places on the right side; and a major artery and two jugular veins connecting blood to the brain were also cut through.
Martinez pleaded not guilty to the murder, saying Hinds was the real killer.
Hinds, a Jamaican national, giving evidence at the beginning of the trial, admitted being with Martinez and Mr. Rankine at the time of the killing and said he saw Martinez attack Mr. Rankine with a cutlass, ‘chopping like he was crazy’.
Police originally arrested both men on suspicion of murder but Hinds was later charged with the lesser crime of being an accessory after the fact of murder. He has pleaded guilty to the charge and is on bail awaiting sentencing.
‘Mr. Martinez, the jury has found you guilty. I therefore sentence you to the only sentence permitted by law. I sentence you to imprisonment for life.’
Grand Court Justice Alexander Henderson