No testimony from robbery trial defendants

None of the four defendants in the Cayman National Bank robbery trial opted to testify following the close of the Crown’s case on Monday. 

David Tamasa, Rennie Cole and George Mignott chose to not give evidence and not to call any witnesses.  

The fourth defendant, Andre Burton, also did not give evidence, but his attorney Paul Keleher called Burton’s mother, Rita Ebanks. Ms. Ebanks said she met her son at home the morning of the robbery some time after 9.30 a.m., and took him back to his workplace. 

Questioned by Director of Public Prosecutions Cheryll Richards, Ms. Ebanks said she did not tell police her son was with her that morning because she did not know it would make a difference. 

Questioned again by Mr. Keleher, Ms. Ebanks said she told this to her son’s legal team for the first trial into this case, but she was not asked to give evidence in the original trial. 

Scientific evidence pertaining to three of the four men charged with the June 2012 robbery was read into the record last week and jurors received copies of 77 facts agreed between the prosecution and defense. The evidence included DNA, fingerprints and gunshot residue. 

This included an admission that there was no forensic evidence in relation to Cole. Cole is accused of going into the CNB branch at Buckingham Square ahead of the robbers for the purpose of distracting the security guard at the door.  

Interviewed by police after the robbery, Cole denied any involvement. He said he was going to the bank to cash a check, but was stopped inside the door and told to get on the floor. Investigations showed that he subsequently cashed a check at another CNB branch; it was for $50, written by a CNB customer on June 22, 2012. The robbery occurred on June 28, 2012. 

On July 31, 2012, swabs taken from inside the mouth were sent to a lab in Florida for DNA analysis. The swabs were for the other defendants – Mignott, Burton and Tamasa – as well as Marlon Dillon, who subsequently pleaded guilty to his role in the robbery and gave evidence against the other defendants. 

A Toyota Windom motor car had been driven to the bank and the robbers tried to escape in it after the robbery, but an armored vehicle blocked it. The Windom was processed for DNA and fingerprints. No DNA match to Dillon, Burton, Cole, Tamasa or Mignott was identified. 

No DNA or fingerprints of Tamasa were found on any item relating to the robbery. He was specifically excluded from a swab of the steering wheel of the Windom. 

When the robbers could not get away in the Windom, they ran from the scene and made their getaway in Dillon’s burgundy Chevy Equinox. It was accepted that Tamasa had been a passenger in the Equinox, as he was a friend of Dillon, but it was not accepted that he was in the vehicle the day of the robbery, and the prosecution did not suggest that. It was also accepted that Burton had previously traveled in the Equinox. 

A red and black cap recovered from the Equinox showed a mixed DNA profile; the major contributor matched the DNA profile obtained from Mignott.  

Mignott’s fingerprints did not match any fingerprint impressions found during the investigation. 

There was no gunshot residue evidence against Tamasa, Cole, Mignott or Burton. 

The defendants’ interviews were also referred to. 

Tamasa’s first interview was already read to the jury. In it, he said he operated a construction/renovation company and on the day of the robbery he was working in an apartment in South Sound. He left the site that morning to go to his home in West Bay for a jackhammer and paint some time after 10 a.m. In subsequent interviews Tamasa said he did not plan the robbery, had no knowledge of it, was not “the main player,” and did not tell Dillon to tell police he had been abducted if he was arrested. 

Burton’s interview has already been reported. In a subsequent interview he exercised his right to remain silent. 

Mignott was interviewed three times. He gave police his phone number and date of birth and then exercised his right to remain silent. His timesheets from his job showed he was absent on the day of the robbery. He was absent 18 days between March 28 and June 29, six of those days being a Thursday. [The robbery occurred on a Thursday.] Mignott had received a warning from his employer for absenteeism and bad timekeeping. 

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