Leonard Antonio Ebanks denied confessing to two women that he had been involved in the murder of Swiss banker Frederic Bise, telling a jury on Monday, “I did not kill him.”
Ebanks admitted to being a drug addict and a career criminal with more than 50 convictions but denied any involvement in the murder of Bise and suggested the two witnesses had maliciously concocted false stories that he had confessed to them.
“I did not kill him, I did not assist anyone with the disposal of evidence or anything else,” said Ebanks as he took the stand in his own defense on Monday.
He said he believed Arlene White, a housekeeper who worked at his friend’s home, told the police he had admitted the crime to her because she needed money.
He said everyone knew Ms. White used to work at the Spanish Town police station in Jamaica and she would be the “last person on God’s Earth” that he would confide in about any criminal activity.
He added, “If I had something to do with this man’s demise, do you think that she would be told by me? Not happening, not happening. No one apart from God would have heard those things … that is not something you brag and boast about.”
Ms. White testified last week that Ebanks told her that he and his cousin Chad Anglin killed Bise by hitting him with a cinder block and then put his body in his car and set it on fire. She acknowledged under cross-examination that she was receiving payment through the witness protection program.
Ebanks said the pair had talked almost every day in June and July of 2010, the time during which Ms. White claims he made the confession. But he said their conversations were mostly about the housekeeper’s problems.
“She was looking for a means to fix it. That’s what drove her to do what she did to me,” he added, suggesting she lied to police to make money.
Ebanks’s attorneys took the unusual step of putting his prior convictions before the jury on Monday morning. He admitted he had been in and out of jail his whole life and that he is currently serving a life sentence for another murder.
He said his crimes were all drug related and that he was addicted to crack cocaine.
“All my life I’ve been chasing a high,” he said.
He told the court that every day was about looking for a “fix” and that “one day blends into the next.” He acknowledged he could not say where he was on the night of the Bise murder with any certainty.
But he insisted he did not hear about the murder until the news broke the following day, and that he had not told his on-off lover that he was involved in the killing. The lover, who cannot be named for legal reasons, testified that he confessed to her that he had helped Anglin dispose of Bise’s body after the murder.
Ebanks, 44, who is married to a different woman, told the court he had no feelings for the witness and had used her for money and food and a place to stay while he was on the run from the police on another matter, and his wife was off island.
“Every time I told her I loved her, every time I told her I was not going back to my wife, every time I told her she was the center of my world, that was a lie,” he said.
As soon as his wife returned from overseas, Ebanks said, he went back to her and “didn’t look back.” The defense alleges that the witness then went to the police the next day with a story that Ebanks had confessed his role in the murder to her.
Ebanks said the only time they had spoken about the murder was at her instigation after the arrest of his cousin, and that he had made no admissions.
He said he was not gay, as another witness had suggested, and that he was not homophobic. His testimony continued Monday afternoon.