Defence lawyers seek witness information in guns case

Lawyers for the first named defendant charged in connection with a gun smuggling operation that ran between the Cayman Islands and south Florida during 2008 and 2009 have filed a request for certain information about witnesses in the case.  

According to records in the United States District Court for the southern district of Florida, attorney Bruce Fleisher, on behalf of defendant Mikkyle Brandon Leslie [known in Cayman as Brandon Leslie Ebanks] has requested any and all “Brady material” held by the US attorneys office in the southern district of Florida in connection with the charges against Leslie.  

The request was made on Wednesday and, according to court records, it will be disputed by federal prosecutors.  

“Brady material” refers to evidence that is known, or that should be known, to the prosecutors in a case that might be important for establishing the innocence of a defendant or assisting to reduce the punishment given to a convicted defendant. US law requires the prosecution to disclose such evidence to the defence. “Brady material” references a US Supreme Court case from 1963 [Brady v. Maryland] where this standard was established.  

For example, prosecutors would generally have to reveal any agreements with witnesses it relies on in court, if those agreements involved giving preferential treatment or not prosecuting the individual in return for their testimony.  

Mr. Fleisher’s request seeks the following information:  

The names and address of each cooperating witness and indicted co-conspirators. Six people have been charged in federal court in connection with the Florida-Cayman gun running; however, only two of them, Leslie and Alexander Michael Henry, have been publicly identified.  

The names and whereabouts of any witness in the case whom the government does not anticipate calling as a witness at trial and a copy of any statements they have made.  

Cases where those individuals may have previously been used as cooperating witnesses or any cases where those witnesses have testified about their own criminal activity.  

Any record that details sums paid to the cooperating witnesses or their families in connection with the gun smuggling case or any other criminal matter.  

Any information that relates to promises of immunity, leniency, preferential treatment or other inducements made to a cooperating witness.  

Records that reveal actual or implied threats of criminal prosecution or deportation from the United States made by government to induce the witnesses’ cooperation.  

Any criminal activities charged against any witness in Leslie’s case and any reports that detail decisions of the government not to proceed with charges in those cases.  

Any records that indicate a witness used in the Leslie case was given a code name or a false identity, given a polygraph [lie detector] test and the results of those tests, or whether the witness executed any contract with the government; among other matters.  

Any records indicating the prospective witnesses have used drugs, alcohol to excess or have received treatment for substance abuse or a mental disorder.  

Further submissions due on the defence’s “Brady” motion are expected to be filed later this month.  

In December 2011, Leslie was charged with five counts related to allegations he conspired with other individuals to illegally ship firearms to Grand Cayman from the Miami-Broward County area. He pleaded not guilty to those charges.  

Since then, the federal indictment against Leslie and five others has been superseded and replaced, and Leslie is now facing seven counts in relation to the gun running case.  

Count 1 accuses Leslie of conspiracy to ship firearms from Florida to Cayman with other individuals; the five other suspects have been charged in the superseding indictment while other individuals are named as unindicted co-conspirators.  

Counts 2, 4 and 6 against Leslie deal with separate allegations that he attempted to and did fraudulently export illegal firearms from the US; counts 3, 5 and 7 involve delivery of those illegal weapons to a common carrier for shipment without authorisation.  

The investigation that led to Leslie’s arrest in the US this past December has identified roughly a dozen individuals – most of them from the Cayman Islands – who were “participants in the firearms smuggling activities”.