Murder trial jury had manslaughter option

Murder verdicts were unanimous

The jury that found three men
guilty of murder on Thursday were told by Justice Charles Quin that they could
consider the option of manslaughter.

That was part of his directions
when he began summing up matters on Wednesday in the trial of Patrick Elbert McField,
23, Osbourne Douglas, 23, and Brandon Leslie Ebanks, 24, who were charged with
murder. After the jury of eight women and four men returned separate unanimous
verdicts, Justice Quin imposed sentences of life imprisonment, the only
punishment for murder in Cayman.

All three plan to appeal.

They were charged with murdering
Omar Barton Samuels on the night of 4 July 2009 in the McField Lane area of
George Town. The Crown’s case, presented by Solicitor General Cheryll Richards,
was that the men acted in a joint enterprise: only Douglas and Ebanks had guns,
but all three were guilty because of their common purpose. It did not matter
who pulled the trigger that sent a bullet through Mr. Samuel’s leg and
perforated the main artery, leading to his death from loss of blood.

The Defence position was that the
men were not at the scene of the shooting and were not even together the night
it occurred; the two teenage girls who gave eyewitness accounts were either
lying or making a serious mistake.

In summing up the case, Justice
Quin said if jurors concluded that the three men were together in a joint
enterprise, they had to look at the question of intent. Murder is the unlawful
killing of another by an act done with intent to kill or cause serious bodily
harm.

The Crown’s evidence was that,
before the shooting, the two men had put their guns to Mr. Samuels’ head. If
jurors accepted that, they might think that if the men intended to kill him
they could have shot him in the head.

“If they fired multiple shots and
only one bullet hit him you may think they only intended to frighten him,” the
judge said.

If they intended to frighten him
and hit him by mistake it would be possible to return a verdict of
manslaughter, he elaborated. Manslaughter is killing by an unlawful act, which
all sober and reasonable people would inevitably recognise must subject the
victim to a risk of some physical harm.

In his directions, the judge noted
there were some inconsistencies; jurors had to decide whether these were slight
or so serious that they led to the view the witness could not be believed.
Further, if two people gave different versions, it did not mean one was lying.
A person could be honest and make a mistake.

The Crown did not have to prove
motive, he pointed out. But one of the eyewitnesses said the man with the scarf
— later identified as Douglas — came up to Mr. Samuels and started arguing
with him about something he did to “Patrick” in a nightclub.

During the trial, only Ebanks gave
evidence; McField relied on his interview with police; Douglas exercised his
right to remain silent. Justice Quin reminded the jury that the Crown had to
prove the men’s guilt; they did not have to prove their innocence.

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