Convicted murderer awaits decision from Court of Appeal

Convicted of murder in February, and having his appeal heard in July, Raziel Omar Jeffers may have to wait until April 2013 to learn the outcome.  

Jeffers, now 28, was convicted of murdering Marcus Leon Ebanks, 20, during a shooting that took place on 8 July, 2009, in a yard in the Bonaventure area of West Bay. In the same incident, another young man was wounded and a boy of 14 was left paralysed. 

In Grand Court this past Friday, attorney Richard Barton referred to two other murder charges against Jeffers. He told Justice Alexander Henderson that the decision of the Court of Appeal had been awaited before the other matters could progress. 

However, just the night before, he had learned from the Registrar of the Court of Appeal that the judgment was expected on 8 April, 2013. [The court typically holds its spring session around Easter.]  

In light of that time frame, Mr. Barton said the Crown had indicated a desire to get Jeffers’ other indictments listed for trial. 

Justice Henderson concurred. “I would think it unwise and undesirable to put these matters in abeyance,” he said. 

Crown Counsel Elisabeth Lees explained that when Jeffers had been brought to the Grand Court in August, it had not been thought that the Court of Appeal decision would not be available until next year. She indicated that if attorneys wait until 2013, then by that time the court calendars will have filled and they would not get trial dates until 2014. 

The judge asked if they had any indication why the Court of Appeal was taking so long. 

Mr. Barton said one of the grounds of appeal was apparent bias on the part of the trial judge. The other was on the basis of telephone records that were not put to the Crown’s primary witness. 

Justice Henderson said he would not have thought that those grounds would take the Court of Appeal so long to consider. 

Ms Lees noted that the Court of Appeal would be sitting again in November and the judgement might be ready earlier than next year. 

Justice Henderson agreed that “April 2013 may be an outside date.” 

When Mr. Barton asked about legal aid for Jeffers, the judge pointed out, “Either he is entitled to legal aid or he is not.” He said he could sympathise with the desire to spread out the expense because of budget constraints. But with no income and no assets, Jeffers would be eligible. 

The chief justice has to be concerned for the legal aid budget, which is not enough in general terms to cover the demand for services, Justice Henderson pointed out. 

Mr. Barton asked if he would make the order 
for legal aid. 

Justice Henderson replied that there was no urgency: “We prefer to have the paperwork,” he said, advising that an application be filed in the usual way. 

Jeffers’ matters are set for mention again on 30 November. He is charged with the shooting death of Marcos Mauricio Guaman Duran on 11 March, 2010, at an address on Maliwinas Way off North West Point Road in West Bay. He is also charged with murdering Damion Omar Ming on 25 March, 2010, in the Birch Tree Hill area of West Bay.  

For the charge of murdering Marcus Ebanks, Jeffers had chosen trial by judge alone and Justice Charles Quin heard the matter. 

Another man convicted of murder, Leonard Antonio Ebanks, also chose trial by judge alone and Justice Quin heard his matter in September 2011. He found Ebanks guilty in the fatal shooting of Tyrone Burrell in September 2010. 

Ebanks had his appeal heard in July this year and his first ground also was apparent bias on the part of the judge. The decision in his case is not yet known. 

Both appeals were heard by Court President Sir John Chadwick, Justice Elliot Mottley and Justice Abdulai Conteh.  

Justice Chadwick had said after the Jeffers appeal that the court wanted to take time to consider its decision and would deliver it “as soon as we can” (Caymanian Compass, 30 July). 

Cayman Islands Courthouse

The Law Courts Building in downtown George Town. – Photo: File

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