Trial begins in death of Special Olympics athlete

Trial got under way Friday for Jose Guadelupe Sanchez, 27, who is charged with murdering Special Olympics athlete Solomon David Webster in 2014.

Mr. Webster, 24, won a gold medal in the individual bocce event during the 2010 Special Olympics Latin American Regional Games in Puerto Rico.

Director of Public Prosecutions Cheryll Richards said the central issue is who fired the firearm at Mr. Webster and with what intent. A number of witnesses saw Sanchez with a firearm in his hand, and the Crown’s case is that Sanchez fired the gun with intent to kill or at least cause serious harm. She noted that the alternative of manslaughter would be open for the judge to consider.

Opening the Crown’s case, Ms. Richards said the yard where the incident occurred on Sept. 7, 2014, at 57 Miss Daisy Lane, West Bay, had 10 buildings housing family members and tenants. Mr. Webster lived there with his parents and siblings. Sanchez’s mother also lived there, and witnesses said he had been staying with her for several months.

Ms. Richards said Sanchez had left the yard earlier that Sunday to attend a boat party. A friend drove him back to the yard that evening. The friend’s evidence would be that a man by the name of Shaquille Bush came over to her car and an argument started. She saw Bush try to take a bottle of rum from Sanchez. They started fighting and then went out of her view.

Other witnesses saw Mr. Webster get involved, and then saw the three men grappling and holding on to each other. Shortly before the shooting, Sanchez was allegedly heard to say “One of you goin’ dead tonight” and “Solly, you goin’ die tonight.”

There was a gunshot and a man heard Mr. Webster say, “Peto, you shot me” and call out for his mother. Peto is a nickname for Sanchez.

One woman reported hearing what sounded like a gunshot and then going outside, where she saw Sanchez, Bush and Webster “in one bundle, holding onto each other” and later falling. She saw Bush get up and go out of the yard; she didn’t notice if he had anything. Sanchez and Mr. Webster were still holding on to each other when they fell again. Sanchez got up and Mr. Webster got up, but dropped back down on his face. A man turned him over and there was a lot of blood on his right leg. Sanchez was still standing there; it looked as if he were searching for something. He ran from the scene when sirens were heard.

The gunshot wound to Mr. Webster’s right thigh perforated an artery. The incident occurred some time after 8 p.m. and Mr. Webster was pronounced dead at 10:06 p.m.

One witness said she saw Bush back at the scene talking to police the next day.

Officers located Sanchez on Sept. 9, Ms. Richards said. When they saw him, he ran but stopped at their command. He was taken to hospital and treated for minor bruises and lacerations consistent with the incident.

Exhibits for the trial include a large aerial photograph of the yard and numerous copies of a map of the yard. Ms. Richards said witnesses saw different aspects of the incident. She explained that each witness had a separate copy of the map on which they would mark the points from which they had viewed what happened and where they saw the men.

Justice Charles Quin, who is hearing the matter without a jury as Sanchez chose, indicated he would like to view the scene, which would mean a visit by everyone together, including the defendant, court staff, defense counsel Mark Heywood and Guy Dilliway-Parry, Ms. Richards and Senior Crown Counsel Tricia Hutchinson.

The weapon, a semiautomatic Colt Commander, was found by a resident of the yard after Sanchez left the scene.

The resident hid the gun in the bush and later took a police officer there to recover it. Officers also recovered a live 9mm round and a spent round. A firearms expert said the round that was fired was from that Colt Commander.

In submissions last week before the trial started, Mr. Heywood pointed out that a partial DNA profile had been obtained from the gun. The Crown had said the material was suitable only for exclusion purposes and both the defendant and the deceased were excluded.