Crown’s case nears close in trial

Defence attorneys question main witness

Director of Public Prosecutions Cheryll Richards said she expected to close the Crown’s case on Thursday (yesterday) in the trial of three men accused of murdering Alrick Peddie in a West Bay yard on 24 March 2010. 

Defence attorneys for Roger Deward Bush, José Guadalupe Sanchez and Robert Aaron Crawford agreed to have witness statements read into the record rather than have the witnesses come to court and give their evidence in person. That procedure has saved time. 

The attorneys spent much of Tuesday questioning Michael Conrad Ebanks, who was the Crown’s third witness when trial began on Monday. Mr. Ebanks had told the court he was in a yard on Willie Farrington Drive with Mr. Peddie, whom he also knew as Bling. Around 3pm he saw a car come into the yard. It was a red two-door Honda Civic with tint and black rims. He said he saw the three defendants in the car and said something to Mr. Peddie. When the car doors began to open he ran. Seconds later he heard gunshots. When he returned to the scene, Mr. Peddie was lying on the ground with holes in his chest. 

Under cross-examination, Mr. Ebanks denied being a member of any gang. He described himself as neutral and friends with everybody, but not to hang around with. He agreed he had a “loose association” with people who might be gang members.  

Asked about friends on Facebook, he said his wife had set up the account for him; anybody who sent him a friend request he accepted. He agreed there was a message on his Facebook page posted 14 March 2011. It read: “To Bling, Tyrone and all the fallen gangsters. You’ll never be forgotten. RIP.” Mr. Ebanks said he told his wife to put that message there. He agreed he used the word gangster, but said he could have just as well used the word soldier. “Any man who fears no man considers himself a gangster,” he said. 

He was asked why he had not mentioned the tinted windows of the Honda in a previous statement to the prosecution. Mr. Ebanks said he did not notice the tint at the time because he was focusing on who was in the car. Photographs of the car exhibited in court show tinted side windows and a dark tint across the top of the windscreen, with the bottom lighter. 

Mr. Ebanks was challenged on several alleged inconsistencies in his evidence. He said the only lie he told was when he said no other person was in the area. He acknowledged his “baby brother” was in the back of the house, but he said he didn’t want his brother’s name called in this. 

Other witnesses heard from in person included the owner of the red Honda, Blake Barrell, who said he had driven it to Northwest Point around 11 or 12 o’clock on 24 March 2010 to go spear fishing. When he returned, the car was missing. Mr. Barrell said he did not know any of the three defendants; he answered no when asked if any of them had ever driven in his car. 

Cross-examined, he agreed that he did give a lot of people rides.  

Crown Counsel Candia James read a statement from the police officer who found the Honda the next morning, 25 March. Scenes of Crime Officer Louise Thornley told the court she took samples from the car for gunshot residue and DNA testing. One swab was from the outside of the driver’s door. 

Ms James later read a report from DNA expert Kevin Noppinger. He said a partial profile from that swab matched the profile obtained from Aaron Crawford to the extent that chances of another person matching were one in 75 million. 

Justice Karl Harrison is hearing the matter without a jury. 

Other witnesses heard from in person included the owner of the red Honda.