Witness credibility to be challenged in appeal

Raziel Jeffers contests convictions for manslaughter, murder

The credibility of Raziel Jeffers’s ex-girlfriend will be an important factor in his appeal against conviction for manslaughter, the Cayman Islands Court of Appeal heard on Thursday.

The woman, who was placed in a witness protection program after giving statements to police, gave evidence against Jeffers in three trials, saying he had confessed to her. He was convicted of murder twice and, in the last matter, found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to 20 years.

Jeffers’s alleged that the woman was supplied with ganja “to make her more compliant” and that she had been asked by the Crown to withhold certain evidence that could have been favorable to his defense.

Andrew Radcliffe, QC, who conducted the case for the prosecution in two of Jeffers’s trials, agreed that the woman’s evidence was critical in the matter that led to conviction for manslaughter. He described her evidence as central in the other two trials.

He agreed that the allegations in connection with her testimony should be treated as fresh evidence, since the court has already heard and dismissed appeals against the two murder convictions. He indicated that, depending on how the court viewed the manslaughter appeal, the murder appeals might be revisited.

Jeffers, now 33, was charged with the murder of Marcus Leon Ebanks in West Bay in July 2009. Mr. Ebanks was fatally shot and two other people were wounded in the shooting that occurred near the Bonaventure Boys Home. Jeffers, after electing to be tried by judge alone, was found guilty in February 2012. His appeal was dismissed later the same year.

He was later charged with the murder of Damion Omar Ming, who was shot in a yard off Birch Tree Hill Road, West Bay, on March 25, 2010. A jury found him guilty after trial in March-April, 2014. His appeal was dismissed in July 2015.

In the third trial, Jeffers was charged “together with other persons” of murdering Marcus Mauricio Guzman Duran on March 11, 2010, outside an apartment on Maliwinas Way, off North West Point Road. The Crown contended that he had planned the robbery of Mr. Duran, had provided guns and given information to accomplices about the victim’s movements. Because of his role as “mastermind,” he could be held responsible for the killing under Cayman law. The jury found him not guilty of murder, but guilty of manslaughter.

Jeffers represented himself at the case management hearing this week. He told the court that his family was meeting an attorney next week and he hoped to be represented after that.

He asked the court’s guidance on how to get more evidence about the woman if the Crown did not disclose it. He was told that if a matter needed to be resolved, a Grand Court judge could be appointed to deal with it.

He was further directed that his perfected grounds of appeal should be served by Oct. 7 this year. He should then receive a response from the Crown by Oct. 28. The appeal was set down for Nov. 10 and 11.

Hearing the matter were Justices Sir George Newman, Sir Richard Field and Cecil Dennis Morrison.