Few convictions for killings

Of 22 homicides in the past five years, people have been convicted of murder or manslaughter in seven of the cases, according to an analysis by the Cayman Compass. 

West Bay, by far, has seen the most homicides since January 2010, with 11 on record. George Town district accounts for another five. There were three killings in Bodden Town over that period, two in the East End and one on Little Cayman.  

Seven cases over the past five years resulted in convictions, another was a murder-suicide, and two more are working their way through the courts. That leaves 12 cases where police and prosecutors have not been able to bring a defendant to trial. 

Royal Cayman Islands Police Superintendent Adrian Seales said recently that his department suspects the shootings so far this year are gang related. “We still need public cooperation to solve the shooting and the murder,” he said, and reiterated the need for people to come forward to help solve murders going back to 2010. 

This month’s shooting death of Victor Yates, 22, and a possible revenge shooting in West Bay three days later recall similar tit-for-tat gang killings in 2010, 2011 and 2013. At least 12 of those homicides since the beginning of 2010, police say, have connections to gang activity or gang-related revenge killings. From the homicides linked to gangs, particularly in West Bay, four have resulted in murder convictions. 

Police are still investigating the shooting death of Mr. Yates. Police arrested a 20-year-old man in another shooting in West Bay two days later. Police Superintendent Seales said the people involved have gang connections, and he said police speculate that the second incident was in retaliation for the killing of Mr. Yates. The man shot in the retaliatory incident, a 22-year-old who is not being named for legal reasons, was shot in the wrist and survived.  

In October 2014, Chief Inspector Malcolm Kay made a public plea for help with the unsolved 2013 homicides, when three people were killed in a month. Between September and October of that year, there were shooting deaths in West Bay, George Town and Prospect. Irvin Garlon Bush, 52, was shot outside his home in West Bay on Sept. 15. His son Robert Macford Bush was shot and killed two years earlier. 

Police said this month that they did not get any leads from door-to-door canvassing on the anniversary of the three homicides in September and October 2013. 

Brian Emmanuel Borden was convicted for the younger Mr. Bush’s murder. There were several arrests made in the father’s killing, but no charges were filed. 

On Oct. 2, 2013, someone shot into an apartment and killed Earl Hart, 22. Mr. Hart had testified in a murder trial that resulted in the conviction of Chakane “C.J.” Scott for killing Asher McGaw in East End in 2011. Two people were arrested but never charged. 

Anthony Connor, 32, died about a week after Mr. Hart. He was killed with a single shot while standing outside the Mango Tree Bar and Restaurant in George Town. A year after the killing, Police Superintendent Seales issued a statement that read: “Although this incident occurred close to a very busy bar and intersection, very few witnesses came forward and no arrests were made in connection to his murder.” 

Convicted 

Chief Inspector Kay said in October, “Recently, we have had a number of successful convictions in court for both murders and manslaughter which, in part, was down to the support and courage of witnesses who have come forward and given evidence in court.”  

He pointed to the manslaughter conviction for Raziel Jeffers last August in the killing of Marcos Duran in West Bay and the conviction of Chad Anglin for the 2008 killing of Swiss banker Frederic Bise. Jeffers was also convicted in the 2010 killing of Damion Ming. 

Also last year, a woman pleaded guilty to manslaughter for killing Perry McLaughlin on Little Cayman. 

The Cayman Compass takes a look back at the homicides in Cayman since January 2010. There were 22 killings in the past five years. People have been convicted in seven of the cases. 

 

2015 

Jan. 3 – West Bay – Victor Oliver Yates, 22, became the first homicide victim of 2015. He was shot at the Super C Restaurant on Watercourse Road, an area familiar with violent criminal activity. Two days later, a 22-year-old man was shot in his car and injured in what police call an apparent retaliation for killing Mr. Yates. 

2014 

Feb. 9 – Bodden Town – Nichelle Anna-Kay Thomas, 21, was killed by her former boyfriend Devon Campbell in a murder-suicide. As reported at the time, Mr. Campbell slashed and stabbed Ms. Thomas to death and then hanged himself. 

Sept. 7 – West Bay – Solomon Webster, 24, who won the gold medal for bocce in the 2010 Special Olympics, died after being shot near his home on Miss Daisy Lane. Police arrested three in connection with the slaying: Jose Guadalupe Sanchez, 27, was charged with murder; Blake Christopher Barrell, 30, and Graham David Lauer, 60, were charged as accessories after the fact. Charges were later dropped against Mr. Barrell. 

Oct. 27 – East End – Six-year-old Bethany Butler was stabbed to death. Her body was found in a vehicle off Queens Highway with multiple stab wounds. Her mother Tamara Butler has been charged with murder. 

2013 

Sept. 15 – West Bay – In the first homicide in West Bay since 2011, Irvin Garlon Bush, 52, was shot and killed when entering his Miss Daisy Lane home. Mr. Bush’s son Robert Macford Bush was shot and killed in September 2011.  

Oct. 2 – Prospect – Earl Hart, 22, was shot and killed. Community members expressed concern that Mr. Hart’s killing had to do with his testimony in the murder trial of Chakane “C.J.” Scott, who was convicted of shooting Asher McGaw in East End in September 2011.  

Oct. 11 – George Town – Anthony Connor, 32, was shot in the parking lot of the Mango Tree Bar and Restaurant on Shedden Road. 

Nov. 2 – Little Cayman – In the first homicide on Little Cayman since 1957, Perry Steven McLaughlin, 54, was stabbed to death in a domestic incident with a woman describes as his partner. Elsy Patricia Calderon de Ortega Barralga pleaded guilty to manslaughter and called the stabbing self-defense. Mr. McLaughlin was a prominent businessman and second cousin to Premier Alden McLaughlin. 

2012 

Dec. 16 – George Town – Jackson Rainford, 23, was gunned down on Printer’s Way in George Town. The Jamaican national was in the passenger seat of a vehicle near Shedden Road when someone approached the car and fired several shots before running off. Tareek Ricketts, 22, was convicted of the murder and received life sentence. 

2011 

July 30 – Kerran Baker, a nurse from Jamaica, disappeared from her home. Police classified the disappearance as a murder eight months later. The disappearance of Anna Evans, whose case and the plight of her children have been at the top of the news cycle frequently since she went missing in January 2011, has still not been classified as a murder. 

Sept. 13 – West Bay – Robert Macford Bush, 28, was shot in the head while he was sitting in his car on Captains Joe and Osbert Road near Birch Tree Hill Road after 11 p.m. Family members at the time said they believe the killing was in retaliation for an attack at Club Inferno bar in West Bay in July. Almost a year later, police arrested Brian Emmanuel Borden, 27, and charged him with murder. Borden was found guilty in August 2014 and sentenced to life in prison. 

Sept. 15 – West Bay – Andrew Baptist, 24, was shot and killed outside a home on Sand Hole Road. Police described the shooting as retaliation for the murder of Mr. Bush two days earlier
and arrested two men. 

Sept. 17 – West Bay – Preston Rivers, 18, was the third killing in five days. He was shot near Thatch Palm Villas on Andresen Road. 

Sept. 19 – George Town – Jason Christian, 18, was shot and killed near Crewe Road. Twenty-two-year-old Keith Montique was seriously injured. Then-RCIPS Chief Superintendent John Jones said at the time, “We have strong grounds to believe both of these murders are gang-related and relate to a resumption of a feud between factions or gangs … from the Logwoods area and the Birch Tree Hill area.” 

Sept. 22 – East End – Chakane “C.J.” Scott shot and killed Asher McGaw, 21. Police found Mr. McGaw on John McLean Drive with multiple gunshot wounds. Scott was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison in 2012. Earl Hart testified in the trial and was killed in 2013. 

2010 

Jan. 28 – George Town – Courtney Spence, a 32-year-old Jamaican national, was shot and killed as he left work around 11 p.m. at Progressive Distributors on Sparkys Drive. A police sergeant at the time said, “It appears that the gunman may have been lying in wait for his victim to leave the building.” 

Feb. 15 – West Bay – Jeremiah Barnes, 4, died after someone fired shots into his father’s car at a gas station. Police at the time said the shooting was retaliatory. Four months later someone shot Andy Barnes, the boy’s father, near Kelly’s Bar in West Bay. Mr. Barnes was treated for a leg injury after the June shooting. Devon Anglin, 24, was charged with the murder of the child but found not guilty. The Crown appealed the decision and Anglin will face a retrial this year. He was convicted in the 2009 murder of Carlo Webster and is currently in Northward Prison. 

March 11 – West Bay – Marcos Duran, 29, known as a “numbers man,” was shot and killed in West Bay, but the homicide was not connected to the spate of gang killings. During a 2014 trial, prosecutors described the slaying as a robbery gone wrong. Raziel Jeffers, 31, was convicted of manslaughter by a jury. Jeffers was also found guilty of a 2009 murder and in the Damion Ming murder.  

March 24 – West Bay – Alrick Peddie, 25, was gunned down outside his West Bay home in the middle of the afternoon. Witnesses reported hearing six or seven shots before a man jumped a fence and ran toward a nearby shopping center. Three men were charged in the killing: Robert Aaron Crawford, 17, Jose Guadalupe Sanchez, 23, and Roger Deward Bush, 35. All were found not guilty. 

March 25 – West Bay – Damion Ming, 29, was shot and killed in a yard at a house on Birch Tree Hill Road. Police Commissioner David Baines called the killings “tit-for-tat attacks” related to an ongoing gang war in West Bay. A teenager was found not guilty of murder in June 2011. A jury in 2014 found Raziel Jeffers guilty of the murder. A judge described Mr. Jeffers as a “calculated, cold-blooded killer” when he sentenced him to life imprisonment. 

Sept. 8 – West Bay – Tyrone Burrell, 20, was shot and killed on Sept. 8 outside a home on Birch Tree Hill Road, at the same house where Mr. Ming was killed in March. A court found Leonard Antonio Ebanks, 39, guilty in the murder and the decision was later upheld on appeal. 

Oct. 1 – Bodden Town – Several men attacked Jack Kennedy Forbes, 49, outside a shopping center in Bodden Town. Mr. Forbes had recently been released from Northward Prison on a 12-year sentence for manslaughter in a 2000 killing involving a machete. In July 2011, Steve Madiho Brown, 36, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and received a seven-year sentence. 

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  1. Successful prosecutions rely on evidence and that, for the main part, comes from members of the public. The police can only do so much with forensic evidence and the prosecution can only mount a court case when they have sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of a conviction.
    I have said it before and, at the risk of being boring, unless members of the public are prepared to stand up then this evidence will not be fortcoming. Yes, the police can do more, and they should not be afraid of taking robust action to protect the community of the Islands, but they need evidence.

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  2. Witness testimony is useful but recent cases have clearly demonstrated that relying on it too much is fraught with dangers. The bottom line is that solid, irrefutable forensic evidence gets convictions but the problem RCIPS have is a complete lack of proper facilities to conduct forensic tests. How is that in 2015 simple things like GSR tests still have to be sent to labs abroad? It’s fighting crime with one hand tied behind your back.

    But the police can also be their own worst enemy when comes to clear up rates. I remember the still unsolved August 2007 killing of Marlon Brando Ebanks. By the time RCIPS had secured the crime scene dozens of people had tramped over it trying to get a look at the body. According to one senior officer it was a shambles and any usable evidence had either been destroyed or removed.

    That same officer also complained about an attitude within the police that boiled down to – that’s not how we do things here – and which was effectively obstructing certain key elements in any major investigation. Apparently because of this nobody thought to start making any checks on people leaving the island for at least 48 hours after the Ebanks murder, probably allowing the killer to make good their escape.

    The harsh reality is that in a small community, more than half of which is effectively transient, expecting the public to rescue the police from what is largely a mess of their own making is little more than wishful thinking.

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  3. Mr Williams makes some valid point. The RCIPS do not have a track record of securing forensic evidence and certainly have little of the technical back up one might expect in a larger jurisdiction. It doesn’t have a sophisticated DNA database (and I am not sure how useful that would be a) because of the nature of close familial relationships from the indigenous population and) the rapid turnover of ‘visitors’, either short stay vacationers of immigrant workers) and the cost have having analysis carried out elsewhere is prohibitive in any but major cases.

    However, I have to disagree that there needs to be a reliance on Forensic Evidence:

    Yes, eye witness testimony is often unreliable, but that is not what I am talking about. People know who is carrying out these vile acts and they need to tell the police so the police can focus what little forensic techniques they have. Knowing who the offender might be leads the police to their vehicle, their home, their haunts and that is, as well as the scene, a source of much ‘evidence’.

    The advantage of relying on this information is that the person supplying it does not have to be identified or give evidence in court. They just need to make a phone call………….

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  4. So John on that basis we’d have law enforcement based on the Crimestoppers concept of anonymous tip offs and un-attributable evidence.

    All I can say is that despite some pretty substantial rewards being offered it hasn’t been noticeably effective so far. Nor has the option of Judge-only trials to eliminate jury-rigging.

    I was at a meeting a while back and the underlying message from those present seemed to be that they didn’t trust the concept of anonymity. People were convinced that if they phoned info in RCIPS wouldn’t (or couldn’t) keep it secret and the source would sooner or later be identified. Allegedly even calls to Crimestoppers can be traced by anyone who can access local phone records.

    Another issue, which I’ve had personal experience of, are the risks arising from securing warrants and raiding premises on the basis of anonymous tip offs. If the info is good no problems but most of it isn’t. Charging round chasing leads that are dead ends and can often be deliberate misinformation is a massive waste of resources.

    I can remember two major murder investigations in London that were totally screwed by this – neither has ever been solved even though one now goes back nearly 20 years.

    Bottom line is there’s no substitute for good police work, no short cuts and unless you get a confession no easy options.

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  5. Oh Dear Mr Williams seems to be making a comment that truly sheds a light onto Caymanian society – there is little trust. Is it the Caymanian officers who are smeared by allegations of lack of trust?
    Perhaps the RCIPS should select a likely candidate, plant evidence, beat out of them, or make up a confession and then everyone would be happy?
    No. Society, and certainly one that is ‘policed by consent’ needs to have a very grown up debate, get the police service they need (rather that the one they deserve) and thereto out drug/gang violence and all other forms of crime that blight lives, by working together – police/community. community/community.
    Then, and only then, will you begin to right some of the ills of Caymanian society (and this isn’t something that can be blamed on the ex-pat!)

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