Attorney Mark Tomassi, representing defendant William Martinez-McLaughlin, suggested that the Crown’s first witness killed Brian Rankine-Carter on the night of 16 May, 2008, and then blamed someone he knew was innocent.
“You took his life, didn’t you?” Mr. Tomassi said to Jason Hinds late Wednesday, the first day of the trial.
“No, sir,” Hinds replied.
Earlier he told Justice Charles Quin and the 12-member jury that he had pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact to the murder and had received a sentence of three-and-a-half years. He said he served that term and now resides in Jamaica. His evidence was given via video link.
First questioned by Solicitor General Cheryll Richards, Hinds said he did not know the deceased. He said he was at Eastern Star Bar in East End that Friday night with McLaughlin, a co-worker he was driving home. Hinds said after playing dominoes he was out on the balcony dancing and drinking a beer. “A guy came up to me and says I’m bad… meaning I can dance,” the witness explained.
The guy asked if he lived in East End and Hinds said he told him no. He then asked if he could get a ride to town; when Hinds said he lived in Bodden Town, the man asked if he could get a ride that far and then went over and talked to McLaughlin. Hinds said he overheard him calling some names and McLaughlin saying he knew some of those guys.
After about 20 minutes, Hinds told the court, McLaughlin said he would give Hinds some money for gas to carry them to George Town. When they got to town, the guy was directing where to go and McLaughlin was repeating the directions to Hinds. On reaching McField Lane, he turned into a parking lot. McLaughlin and the guy exited the van.
The guy went across the road and when he came back he gave McLaughlin a white piece of paper. McLaughlin said, “That can’t work.”
The paper was like a cupcake paper and looked like something was wrapped in it. Hinds said McLaughlin gave the paper back to the guy, who then went across the road a second time. When he came back, McLaughlin said that couldn’t work and it was better to give him back his money. The guy said he would have to find McLaughlin the next day and give him money back.
Hinds said he was sitting on the van bumper on the driver side; he saw McLaughlin and the guy walk to the passenger side of the van and he thought they had settled their differences. He then saw McLaughlin grab the guy from behind around the neck and pull him toward the bushes.
Hinds said he rushed over to where they were; both were struggling and fell to the ground. The guy was on his belly and McLaughlin was holding his neck in an upward position. He was saying, “Please, please, I’ll pay you back your money.”
Hinds said he tried to pull McLaughlin off the guy, then noticed something metal in McLaughlin’s hand, like an ice pick. He got scared and went back to the van. Then McLaughlin rushed to the van and got a cutlass and a white plastic bag and went back to where the man was. “I saw him chopping like he was crazy,” Hinds told the court. He said McLaughlin was holding the cutlass with both hands, carrying it from over his head and downwards. “Honestly, it was like a nightmare. He was chopping fast. At one point he stop and catch his breath and then start again. Seeing this terrified me,” the witness said.
He said he then tried to restrain McLaughlin. On reaching, he saw McLaughlin taking off the man’s clothes. The man was lying on his back and wasn’t moving.
When he held onto McLaughlin’s hand, some blood came onto his hand, Hinds said.
Afterward, McLaughlin told him where to drive and they made two stops, then proceeded to East End, where he dropped McLaughlin at his house. In his cross-examination, Mr. Tomassi suggested that because [the man] the Bran Rankine-Carter had nice manners and had complimented Hinds’ dancing, Hinds thought he was homosexual. Hinds denied this. He said he didn’t have a problem with homosexuals. Asked if he didn’t call homosexuals “batty boy” Hinds said that’s a term in Jamaica, “but I don’t got nothing against homosexuals.”
He denied knowing why they were going to George Town; he said he was just doing a co-worker a favour. He admitted smoking ganja in Cayman – just once, he said – two nights before this incident.
Mr. Tomassi suggested the idea was that Hinds was going to get some ganja from Brian Rankine, who had told him he could supply it. Hinds said no.
“You thought you were being double-crossed by this batty boy, didn’t you?” Mr. Tomassi asked.
“No, sir,” Hinds replied.