Work glove, phone records were crucial evidence
Randy Martin, 37, was sentenced to
life imprisonment on Tuesday afternoon after Justice Charles Quin found him
guilty beyond reasonable doubt of murdering Sabrina Schirn in March 2009.
No formal notice of appeal was
given, but Defence Attorney Adam King confirmed hours later that he would be
lodging an appeal
In court, Mr. King suggested to Justice
Quin that when the Bill of Rights comes into effect, there could be discussion
as to whether the sentence may have more than one interpretation. At present,
life imprisonment in Cayman means imprisonment for life.
There was some murmuring from the
gallery when Justice Quin announced his verdict, but the 30 or so members of
the public were otherwise quiet. A half-dozen police officers in plain clothes
attended court for the judgment and another half-dozen prison officers were
After sentence was pronounced,
Martin replied, “Much obliged” and made his way down into the holding cells
without further comment.
A serving prisoner, he was
sentenced in June 2007 to seven years for aggravated burglary. In March 2009,
his good behaviour in prison had made him eligible to work outside and he was a
member of the party that tended crops and livestock at the prison farm off High Rock Road in East End.
In reviewing the evidence he heard
from 25 November until 11 December and then 11-15 January, Justice Quin noted
that Ms Schirn, 21, was last seen and heard from by friends on 11 March 2009.
One friend reported hearing a
message on Ms Schirn’s phone the week before, asking her to pick Martin up and
take him to East End. Another friend said Ms
Schirn told her on the morning of 11 March that she was going to drop Randy at East End.
Martin initially told police he did
not know Ms Schirn. During his trial, however, he said he saw her the morning
of 11 March when she came to the prison farm area to bring him ganja and cigarettes,
as she had done before.
He said there was sexual activity but not intercourse because she was
menstruating and that was why her blood was on his belt. He said she wiped her
leg with his work glove and that was how her blood got on that item. He gave
her a wash rag he carried and the glove got left on the back seat of the car Ms
Schirn was driving that day.
That glove was found on 23 March by
Senior Constable Davis Scott in rough terrain about 200 feet from where a land
owner had found the car Ms Schirn had been driving. The car itself was over 500
feet off the main road, about a four-minute drive from where Ms Schirn’s body
was discovered. The car was roughly parallel with the rear boundary of the
Justice Quin agreed with Solicitor General
Cheryll Richards who asked why the glove was in the bush. “It was hidden by
someone who wanted it hidden and not found,” Justice Quin said. The only person
who could have understood its significance would be the defendant.
The judge also said he did not
accept Martin’s evidence of how Ms Schirn’s blood came to be on his belt and
glove. He said the items linked Martin to the crime and Ms Schirn’s blood got
on them when he attacked her.
Martin also maintained that his
meeting with Ms Schirn at a banana shed west of the prison farm occurred at
10.38am and lasted 10 or 11 minutes. Justice Quin rejected this testimony as
unreliable and untruthful after he analysed records for Ms Schirn’s Digicel and
Cable and Wireless cell phones.
For example, she and her phone
could not have been in the Patrick’s Island
cell phone coverage area at 10.24am but arrive at the prison farm by 10.38am.
One of her friends had taken a
break from work and called Ms Schirn at 10.50am. She testified that Ms Schirn
told her then she was on her way to East End;
phone records confirmed the details.
In his view, the judge said, Martin
was insisting on the 10.38am meeting time because he was trying to remove himself
from the time of the assault.
The judge noted that Ms Schirn’s
Cable and Wireless phone stopped working at 11.27am; pieces of a Cable and
Wireless phone were found near the murder scene.
Her Digicel phone’s last call was
at 10.59am; all subsequent calls went to voice mail.
But she was engaged in four calls
between 10.49 and 10.59am. Martin said they talked by phone after she drove away;
once was when she warned him that a prison guard was at the farm gate; once was
when they arranged their next meeting and the last time was when she called for
him to listen to a song on the car radio.
Martin’s own evidence was that he
was nervous because one of the prison officers was dogging him. The judge found
it implausible that Martin would use his phone, which was against regulations,
at these times when he could see the officer at the farm gate.
Even more significant, Justice Quin
said, was the fact that Martin did not try to phone Ms Schirn after 10.59am,
even though he had said he was getting closer to her, even though he had called
another of her boyfriends who allegedly had hit her, even after he said he
learned she was missing.
One very compelling reason Martin
did not call was that he knew she was dead – he had killed her, the judge said.
He referred to other evidence,
including a labourer on another farm who saw a man in prison pants and no shirt
getting into a white car. He did not see the man’s face but believed the driver
to be a lady.
The judge also accepted the
evidence of the prison guard who said Martin would have been away from his
assigned work area for 45 minutes.
In commenting on the law, Justice
Quin said a judge hearing a matter without a jury must clearly reveal his
reasons for reaching his conclusions. He must give his point of view and how
his view of the law affected his approach to the facts. He said the defendant
was entitled to know the reasons for the judge’s conclusions.
Crown Counsel Kirsty-Ann Gunn
assisted Ms Richards in the case for the Prosecution. David Evans was leading