Jurors in a Grand Court firearms trial this week have heard that DNA found on an unlicensed revolver did not match the DNA profile of defendant Jay Calvert Ebanks.
Instead, the DNA profile on the .38 Smith & Wesson was consistent with that of a man who was in Ebanks’s residence when it was raided by police last August. That man was Antonio Bullard, who has since been deported on the grounds that he was an illegal immigrant.
On Wednesday, a police witness confirmed from the Immigration Department that the precise date of Bullard’s departure from Cayman was Oct. 9, 2016. The DNA report was received on Nov. 23: it showed profiles consistent with Bullard’s DNA being on a top section of the gun and on the two rounds of ammunition inside.
The gun was found in the tank of the toilet in the en suite bedroom of Ebanks’s mother, senior immigration officer Jeannie Lewis.
In opening the case to the five-woman, three-man jury on Tuesday, Crown counsel Scott Wainwright said that Ebanks initially admitted possession of the items along with 10 rounds of .40 ammunition found in his own bedroom. Ebanks has since pleaded not guilty to the gun and two rounds in it; he has pleaded guilty to the 10 rounds found in his room.
The items were found on Aug. 25, 2016 when police attended Ebanks’s residence with a search warrant around 5:30 a.m. In the house at the time were Ebanks, his mother, his girlfriend, his younger brother and Bullard.
When interviewed, Ebanks told police he had just met Bullard the day before, that Bullard had just come in on a fishing boat, and he – Ebanks – allowed Bullard to stay at his house. He said he did not know Bullard was an illegal immigrant. Ebanks said his mother did not know Bullard was in the house because she was sleeping when Ebanks “snuck him in.”
The police constable who found the revolver told the court that he was part of the team executing the search warrant. He was in the house when a phone rang and Ms. Lewis said it was hers. His supervisor told him to escort Ms. Lewis to get the cellphone. It was on the nightstand in her bedroom. After she got the phone, she said she heard water running. The officer said he told her he would check and went to the bathroom, where he heard the water. He lifted up the toilet tank cover and noticed the firearm. He never touched it; he just shouted for a senior officer.
Questioned by defense attorney Laurence Aiolfi, he confirmed that all five occupants of the house had come out of the house initially, but Ms. Lewis was brought back in to be present during the search. When he saw the firearm and called for a senior officer, Ms. Lewis was asking what was happening, but he did not say anything to her.
The jury heard from another witness that firearm officers attended, removed the revolver from the tank and made it safe.
On Tuesday afternoon, Ebanks’s interview was read aloud, with jurors given copies to follow along.
Ebanks, now 23, asks several times to speak to his mother, but is told that he cannot because she has also been arrested on the same charge. He says he does not need an attorney. He answers some questions and replies “No comment” to others.
At one point he tells officers, “Me and little man [referring to Bullard] going to take the rap for everything. The other three walk. They don’t know anything.” The “other three” are his mother, girlfriend and brother.
Ebanks said he put the gun in his mother’s bathroom the night before while she was asleep. He did not remember where in the bathroom he had put it because he had drunk a couple of beers.
Mr. Wainwright closed the case for the prosecution on Wednesday morning after reading into the record a number of facts on which he and Mr. Aiolfi agreed.
Concerning DNA, a complete single-source profile was obtained from the swab of the two live rounds of ammunition in the firearm. The defendant, his mother, his girlfriend and his brother were excluded as possible contributors to that profile.
Antonio Bullard could not be excluded. The agreed fact is, “Assuming one contributor and based on the population of the Cayman Islands, it is estimated to be 2.2 quintillion times more likely to observe this complete single-source DNA profile if Antonio Bullard is the contributor than if an unknown unrelated individual is the contributor.”
Ebanks, his girlfriend, mother and brother are also excluded as possible contributors to DNA profiles found on the exterior of the gun.
The officer who confirmed when Bullard had left the island said immigration officials knew he had been arrested for a firearm. He said he submitted Bullard’s buccal swab (from inside the mouth, for DNA testing) on Sept. 9, 2016. He knew Bullard was being charged for illegal landing and sent to Summary Court, where he was sentenced. He thought the sentence was 30 days. According to immigration records, Bullard was removed Oct. 9.
Before lunchtime on Wednesday, Ebanks began his evidence. He admitted lying in parts of his police interview. He said he was trying to protect his mother, brother and girl friend. He said he realized the consequences of his admissions, but didn’t have much time “to think it through.”
Mr. Wainwright was expected to continue cross-examining Ebanks in the afternoon.