His killer is walking free.
“The hard part is having to sit here, knowing who killed my son, and I have to go on living in this island, in this district,” Mr. Yates said. “I have to pass him in the street or in the supermarket.”
How is this even thinkable? How is this even possible?
The only way for Mr. Yates to obtain justice for the loss of his son — 22-year-old Victor Yates, who was shot dead in West Bay on Jan. 3 — is for someone to speak the truth.
Yes, Mr. Yates knows who killed his son. And so do the police. And so do at least 10 witnesses (and most likely many more). And so do we at the Cayman Compass. As much as we would like to print the name of the perpetrator, legal restraints (such as libel laws and our prejudicing a future jury pool) prohibit us from doing so.
It is likely that dozens of people know who killed Mr. Yates’s son, including many whose testimony would result in removing his killer from the streets of West Bay today, and assist prosecutors in sending the murderer to prison for good.
And yet, no one is talking, and, consequently, no one has been arrested.
The Yates case raises serious and uncomfortable questions about Cayman’s society, our culture and our system of justice.
The police certainly are not to blame. They can’t arrest the killer because without eyewitness or supporting testimony, they don’t have sufficient evidence to present to the Director of Public Prosecutions.
What is preventing witnesses from stepping forward? There are several explanations, of varying validity.
First, many may genuinely fear for their safety. No wonder — a recent Compass analysis revealed that of 22 homicides in Cayman in the past five years, police and prosecutors have managed to secure convictions (for murder or manslaughter) in only seven of the cases. “Getting away with murder,” it seems, in Cayman, is no remarkable feat. In fact, it’s a two-thirds probability. In Las Vegas, that would be as close as gamblers would ever get to a sure bet.
Second, within districts, many (if not the majority) of individuals from long-established Caymanian families are related, at least nominally, to one another. Testifying against a killer could very well mean testifying against a cousin.
Third, given the time (3 a.m.), location (Watercourse Road) and circumstances (involving known gang members) of the shooting of Victor Yates, it is quite probable that many of the witnesses are also involved in unsavory activity, and are reluctant to talk to — much less confide in — the police.
Whatever the excuses, no one is talking. Mr. Yates is digging a grave for his son. And the killer is walking free.
In the absence of truth, justice cannot exist. The sounds of silence in Cayman are deadly — and telling.