Evidence of Jeremiah’s parents is crucial
Justice Howard Cooke will deliver his verdict at 3pm on Wednesday, he said, after closing arguments were completed on Friday in the trial of Devon Anglin.
Anglin elected to be tried by judge alone after he was charged with murdering Jeremiah Barnes, 4, at the Hell service station on 15 February, 2010.
Justice Cooke began hearing evidence on 15 August, with Jeremiah’s parents being among the first witnesses. Both Andy and Dorlisa Barnes identified Devon Anglin as the gunman who opened fire at their vehicle while Jeremiah and his older brother were in the back seat.
As Crown prosecutor Andrew Radcliffe and defence attorney John Ryder made their final addresses, the judge asked several times what the position would be if he found that the parents’ identification evidence had no value.
Mr. Radcliffe conceded that the rest of the Crown’s evidence would be insufficient to convict Anglin. However, he added, their evidence could only amount to nothing if the court concluded that they were lying or if there truly had been no sensible opportunity for either of them to make an identification.
He said both Mr. and Mrs. Barnes had known Anglin for years. Their naming him was spontaneous, not a concoction.
Before commenting on Mr. Barnes’ evidence specifically, Mr. Radcliffe observed: “Logically and sensibly, no one would want an innocent man to be convicted of the murder of their child when the consequence of that would mean the true murderer remains free.”
With Anglin not giving evidence and no defence witnesses being called, Mr. Ryder accepted that his task was to persuade the judge that the Crown’s evidence did not come up to proof.
He emphasised that he was not criticising the bereaved parents, who had suffered a terrible loss, but their evidence had absolutely no value. He said the shocking circumstances in which each of their purported identifications were made, and the extraordinary speed with which events developed, seriously limited their opportunity to observe the gunman. Those difficulties of shock and speed were intensified by the fact the gunman wore a mask.
Mr. Ryder reminded the court Mr. Barnes had said Anglin was wearing a bandana around his neck which he was pulling up over his face to the bridge of his nose. Mrs. Anglin had said she saw his whole face and did not mention a bandana. But station attendant Carlos Ebanks saw the gunman first, Mr. Ryder asserted, and his evidence was that the person approaching had on a Halloween mask that covered the whole face.
There was no basis in reason to reject that evidence, he argued, which meant that Mr. and Mrs. Barnes could not be right. But the judge did not have to find this as a fact; all that was necessary was for the judge to say he could not be sure that what they said was right.
Mr. Ryder suggested that assumptions may have been made based on previous antipathies between Mr. Barnes and Anglin.
Earlier, when the Crown closed its case, Mr. Radcliffe began by stating points that were common ground with the defence. He said no issues arose that could provide a defence to murder or a partial defence that would reduce the charge to manslaughter. Further, the Crown had suggested Mr. Barnes was the gunman’s target. The concept of “transferred malice” means, he explained, that if a person aims at someone and shoots someone else, the shooter is still guilty of murder.
Much of the Crown’s evidence has been reported in the Caymanian Compass since the trial began, such as expert commentary on the video from the service station’s CCTV and on gunshot residue found on Anglin’s clothing.
In his closing, Mr. Radcliffe agreed that the judge would approach with caution the gunshot residue evidence because the possibility of innocent contamination of the exhibit bags could not be excluded. Mr. Ryder argued that residue on Anglin’s clothing could have got there by transfer. He pointed to an agreed fact – the officer who transported Anglin to the police station after his arrest had earlier reached into the car driven by Mr. Barnes after the shooting. Expert evidence was that there was a very high level of gunshot residue inside the car.
Justice Cooke also asked about the timing of what had occurred, with the shooting taking place at 8pm and Anglin being seen at 8.10pm in the car witnesses said had entered the service station seconds before the shooting and left seconds afterwards. Mr. Ryder said when Anglin was seen, there were three persons in the car, but at the station there were two. “We cannot say that of those three in the car, two were definitely at the station,” he argued.