No defence evidence in murder trial

Judge to hear closing addresses on Tuesday

Chakane Jameile Scott, accused of murdering Asher McGaw in East End last September, has chosen not to give evidence and will not be calling any evidence, defence counsel Sasha Wass told the court on Friday. 

She made the announcement moments after Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Trevor Ward closed the Crown’s case. Justice Alexander Henderson, who is hearing the matter without a jury as Scott elected, asked if counsel would be ready to address him on Tuesday and both said yes.  

The trial started last Monday, 28 May, and had been set down for three weeks. 

The main witness was Antascio Rankine, who said he saw the defendant, referred to throughout the trial as CJ, shoot Asher on the night of 21-22 September in the vicinity of the district clinic off John McLean Drive.  

He described Asher as his best friend, but said all three were friends.  

At the time of the incident, Antascio was 17, 
CJ was 18 and Asher 
was 21. 

Before evidence began and again after it concluded, Justice Henderson observed that if he were sure Antascio was telling the truth, he would convict CJ; if he were not sure, he would acquit. He asked what bits of evidence corroborated Antascio’s account.  

Mr. Ward listed several points, including the fact that Antascio, CJ and Asher were seen together as late as 11.15pm.  

There were other sightings that supported Antascio’s narrative, he said. No one else, however, gave evidence of seeing the shooting. 

Mr. Ward referred to the testimony earlier on Friday by pathologist Mark Shuman about Asher’s wounds. Mr. Ward said there was nothing in the medical evidence that was inconsistent with Antascio’s account. 

Antascio had described how Asher shot off a flare gun and right after that Antascio heard a gun shot.  

He saw the spark and turned and ran.  

When he looked back he saw CJ chasing Asher and after he saw Asher drop face first, he saw CJ stand over him and shoot him.  

He demonstrated the angle of the shots for the court, at one stage using the court marshal as a stand-in for Asher and placing himself as CJ to the side and rear.  

The he demonstrated the angle at which he said CJ held the gun downward when Asher was on the ground. 

Mr. Shuman explained in medical terms the track of the bullets in Asher’s body and demonstrated on his own head and torso. He noted that the projectile that hit Asher in the head entered the left temple and was recovered from the muscle of the right jaw.  

He said there was some stippling, which is created when unburned gunpowder strikes the skin. He said this was important because unburnt gunpowder travels only a short distance – from a few inches to a few feet. 

He said there was no soot around the head wound. Soot would be caused by the gunsmoke and for that to happen the gun would have to be inches from the skin, he elaborated. 

Asked how long after shooting death would have occurred, Mr. Shuman replied, “He would have been unconscious and died soon after – somewhere between half a minute and a couple of minutes.”  

In cross-examination, Ms Wass asked about the direction each bullet would have come from in order for it to take the path it did in the body.  

She suggested a position that the shooter would have to be in for the projectile to enter above the ear on one side of the head and lodge in the 
cheek on the other side of the head.  

Mr. Shuman said it was possible to get that angle from a number of positions, depending on how the gun was aimed at the body. 

She also queried other injuries, notably 23 different abrasions on different parts of Asher’s body. She asked if they would be consistent with an assault or a fight. “Some of them, yes,” Mr. Shuman replied. 

In a follow-up, Mr. Ward asked if the superficial injuries could also be associated with a fall.  

Mr. Shuman that they were minor blunt force injuries that could be caused by a lot of things.  

The injuries on the face were most typical of a fall, he indicated.  

The others could have been caused by almost anything.  

The final witness was Inspector Dennis Walkington, the senior investigating officer for the case, who said he 
formally charged CJ for murder.  

He said he cautioned the defendant before conducting an interview by telling him he had the right to remain silent, but “it may harm your defence if you do not mention now what you may say in court.” 

Mr. Ward then read into evidence facts on which both sides agreed.  

Among them was the fact that when CJ was interviewed in the presence of an attorney he gave “no comment” answers.