Forensic evidence supports McLaughlin’s innocence, attorney says
Jurors should not concern themselves with whatever the case before them might show by way of inadequacies, incompetence or corruption, Defence Attorney Mark Tomassi said in his closing speech on Tuesday.
He was speaking on behalf of William Martinez McLaughlin, who is accused of murdering Brian Rankine Carter on the night of 16 May, 2008.
Mr. Tomassi has said throughout the trial, which started on 6 April, that Brian was killed by Jason Hinds – McLaughlin’s co-worker and companion that Friday night.
Hinds drove their employer’s van and took McLaughlin home. They stopped at an East End bar, where they met Brian. He asked for a ride to George Town, but the evidence was conflicting as to whether he asked Hinds or McLaughlin.
The Defence maintained it was Hinds who was asked, and he persuaded McLaughlin to go along. Brian was to pay for the journey with ganja. But when he was unable to produce an appropriate amount, Hinds became incensed that he had been double-crossed by someone he assumed was homosexual, Mr. Tomassi said.
Both Crown and Defence have agreed that one of the two men killed Brian in an empty lot off McField Lane that night. The cause of death was deep chop wounds to the face, head and arms.
Mr. Tomassi pointed out it was not the jurors who decided to put one person alone on trial. It was not their fault at the end of the case that it was wholly and utterly unsatisfactory. The man on trial was innocent, he asserted.
“Is no one to be convicted of the murder of this poor boy?” he asked. “Do not lend yourselves to the idea that someone must pay if there is just the chance that that person ought not to be the one who should pay.”
Hinds, the Crown’s first witness, told Justice Charles Quin and the 12-member jury that he had pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact to the murder. He had received a sentence of three and a half years, served it and was now back in Jamaica.
Mr. Tomassi said justice would not be served by convicting McLaughlin instead of the real killer.
He reminded the jury of instances in which potential evidence had been lost or misplaced and he highlighted examples of police officers contradicting one another.
He maintained that an officer who knew Hinds from Jamaica should not have been so closely involved in the case.
Turning to forensic evidence, he noted there was only one machete in the case – the one found in Hinds’ bedroom. No machete was recovered at the scene and none was found in the van.
The evidence of tool mark examiner Allen Greenspan detailed how he had compared marks on the machete with cut marks on a bone from Brian’s arm. He said he could not identify the machete as having made the marks, but he could not eliminate it either. Of all the machetes on this Island, wasn’t it more than curious that the machete from Hinds’ bedroom could not be excluded? Mr. Tomassi asked.
He also referred to expert evidence on blood. He suggested that the deceased’s blood could have got on McLaughlin’s belt and wallet when he got home and undressed. There was blood on his work boots and his hands would have come in contact with it when he threw the boots into the bush before going into the house.
Mr. Tomassi showed jurors the blue T-shirt worn by Hinds. Pointing to a transfer pattern of blood on the back of the shirt, he described it as a hand print.
Because of its location, it could not have been Hinds’ own hand, so common sense would say it was the hand of the deceased, Mr. Tomassi said.
He argued that the transfer pattern and blood droplets on the shirt showed Hinds was lying when he said he was in the van when the chopping took place.
Solicitor General Cheryll Richards reminded the jury on Monday of Hinds’ evidence that he left the vehicle twice to try to get McLaughlin to stop the attack.
Justice Quin was scheduled to sum up the case and give the jury some directions, starting on Wednesday afternoon and finishing on Thursday morning. The procedure is that the jury then retires to consider its verdict.