Defense probes shooting victim’s gang links

Jason Powery was part of the so-called Birch Tree Hill gang and had received death threats in the months before he was shot dead outside a George Town bar, a court heard Wednesday.

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His friend Jerome Hurlston said he was not aware of rumors linking Mr. Powery to a handful of other shootings. But he acknowledged his friend had received a threat on Facebook, stating: “[expletive] you’re dead.”

Brothers Justin Ramoon and Osbourne Douglas are jointly charged with murder in connection with the killing on July 1 last year.

Mr. Hurlston testified Tuesday that he saw Ramoon shoot the 20-year-old victim in the face from point-blank range.

Facing cross-examination Wednesday, he acknowledged that Mr. Powery had received a threat on social media from another man, not charged in relation to the crime.

Under questioning from Ramoon’s lawyer Sean Larkin, QC, Mr. Hurlston accepted that he and Mr. Powery were part of a group sometimes called the Birch Tree Hill gang, though he said they were just friends from that area and did not identify themselves as a gang.

He denied any knowledge of rumors, raised by the barrister, linking Mr. Powery to other shootings and an incident of witness intimidation.

He said he was unaware of other threats to Mr. Powery from rival West Bay “gangs,” referred to by Mr. Larkin. He said his friend had not suggested to him that he feared for his life.

Justin Ramoon, front, striped shirt, and Osbourne Douglas, back, step from the prison van outside the Globe Bar on Wednesday.
Justin Ramoon, front, striped shirt, and Osbourne Douglas, back, step from the prison van outside the Globe Bar on Wednesday as the Grand Court moved its proceedings to the scene of the crime.

Asked if he was aware that Mr. Powery owned an AK-47 and had been photographed with the weapon on Facebook, he said he had no knowledge of this.

Asked if he owned or had ever owned a firearm himself, Mr. Hurlston said no. He added, “I might need one now, after this,” referring to his testimony in the trial.

He said he, Mr. Powery and their friend Justin Ebanks, had no reason to fear for their safety when they visited the Globe Bar on the night of July 1.

Even after he says he saw Douglas with a gun, he said he was not afraid.

“They (Douglas and Ramoon) are family to me. I wouldn’t expect them to do anything to me or my friends,” he said.

Describing again the moment his friend was shot, Mr. Hurlston acknowledged he had not fled the scene. Even when the shooter, who he identified as Ramoon walked up to him and raised the weapon, he said he did not run.

“I stood like this and said ‘blood clot,’ and I carried on looking. I must have been ready to face my death because I never ran, I stood there,” he said.

Mr. Hurlston had earlier testified that Ramoon had raised the weapon a second time, but the gun did not go off.

He denied a suggestion from Mr. Larkin that he had removed a gun from Mr. Powery’s body in the aftermath of the shooting.

He acknowledged that police had initially interviewed him because of rumors that he had been involved in the shooting himself.

“Your clients were trying to mix me up in this, they said I set up my friend,” he told the barrister.

“I went to clear my name and tell them what happened … I don’t like police, I wouldn’t have gone to police to make a report.”

Asked about other rumors linking different individuals to the crime, he said he had heard the mother of the two defendants claiming it was somebody else.

“I was there, I can tell you what I saw happen,” he said.

The trial was continuing Wednesday afternoon.