Trial on Webster murder continues

Judge rejects no case to answer submission

Justice Charles Quin rejected a submission that there was no case for Jose Sanchez to answer in regard to the Sept. 7, 2014 murder of Solomon Webster and ruled Thursday that the trial should continue.

Defense counsel Mark Heywood had made his submissions in respect of the second count against Sanchez – possession of an unlicensed Colt Commander semiautomatic pistol. He argued that the pistol was not a firearm under the meaning of the Firearms Law because expert witness Allen Greenfield had told the court that when he examined the pistol on Oct. 3, it was not capable of discharging a missile.

He further argued that there was no evidence that Sanchez had brought the pistol to Miss Daisy Lane the night Mr. Webster was shot.

Justice Quin adopted many of the responses Director of Public Prosecutions Cheryll Richards had made to these arguments.

The judge pointed out that a spent casing had been found in the same area as Mr. Webster’s blood. Mr. Greenspan had said the casing had come from the Colt pistol, although he could not say when.

That meant the Colt pistol was operable at one time; and Mr. Greenspan could not give a date or time when it became inoperable. The judge said finding the casing in the same area as the blood was important evidence that should go to a jury.

This is a judge-alone trial, as Sanchez chose, but at this stage the judge was considering only whether there was evidence on which a reasonable jury – the tribunal of fact – could convict. He said the evidence was not so weak or vague that it could not conceivably lead to a conviction.

Justice Quin also pointed to the evidence of three witnesses who said they saw Sanchez have a gun or something like a gun in his possession.

These three witnesses saw Sanchez fighting or struggling with Mr. Webster and a third man – Shaquille Bush – in a multi-tenanted yard off Miss Daisy Lane. There has been no challenge to evidence that fighting began when Bush confronted Sanchez and Mr. Webster joined in the struggle after it started. One of the witnesses said she had heard Mr. Webster say, “You shot me. You shot me, Peto.” Peto is a nickname for Sanchez.

After Justice Quin’s ruling, the question arose of whether Shaquille Bush would be called to give evidence. The Crown had not called him. The judge said he had considered it his over-riding duty to the defendant to call Bush. He asked Mr. Heywood specifically if the defense wanted Shaquille Bush to give evidence. Mr. Heywood said there was no apparent advantage to the defense, since the best that could be shown was that Bush was a liar.

Ms. Richards said she was somewhat surprised by the defense decision not to hear Bush; she indicated that, along with his answers to questions, there would have been an opportunity to see his reactions when questions were put to him.

Mr. Heywood also raised the question of what was the case that Sanchez was expected to answer – that he brought the gun with him to Miss Daisy Lane or that he came into possession of it after the physical confrontation began.

Ms. Richards pointed out that she had opened her case on the facts available: that it was Sanchez’s firearm and he had brought it to the yard. “We do not resile from that position,” she told the court.

Justice Quin pointed out that in his ruling he had said the evidence was sufficient to conclude Sanchez was in possession of the gun: he had not said anything about how the gun arrived there. Mr. Heywood advised that the likelihood was that he would be calling Sanchez to give evidence.

Another matter arose that prompted Justice Quin to ask all observers to leave the courtroom. Proceedings were subsequently adjourned until 3:30 p.m.