Three defendants were found not guilty of attempted murder Wednesday in relation to a Feb. 4 assault and shooting outside the Fete nightclub. Two men, however, were found guilty on an alternative charge of causing grievous bodily harm with intent.
Tashika Mothen was found not guilty of all five charges the jury had considered; Justice Roger Chapple previously indicated that he would direct a not guilty verdict on two others.
The fourth defendant, Daniella Tibbetts, was found not guilty of possession of an unlicensed firearm together with Kashwayne Hewitt at her West Bay apartment on Feb. 10, when police found a Colt .45 in the cistern of the toilet in her bathroom. It was the only charge she faced. She had pleaded not guilty on the basis that she did not know Mr. Hewitt had hidden the gun there.
The gun was the one from which two bullets had been fired outside Fete. The jury heard that one bullet was fired at Daniel Alexander Bennett, but missed him. The other bullet was fired at Carlney Campbell and hit him in the shoulder.
Mr. Hewitt had pleaded guilty to possession of the gun, telling police that he took it from Malik Mothen after Mr. Mothen fired both shots. Mr. Hewitt did not give evidence, so what he said in interview could not be used against Mr. Mothen. A forensic scientist told the jury that Mr. Hewitt’s DNA was on the gun; Mr. Mothen’s DNA was not.
The four defendants faced a total of nine counts, with some charges involving only one defendant, while others were against two or three defendants.
In all, the jurors were dealing with 16 possible verdicts. The case of each defendant had to be considered separately on each charge, Justice Chapple explained on Tuesday: “They do not stand or fall together.”
The jury of five men and two women returned all unanimous verdicts.
Count 1. Mrs. Mothen was charged with making a threat to kill the man she believed had shot her in March 2015; she was accused of making the threat to Mr. Bennett in the vicinity of Fete Night Club on Feb. 4. Verdict, not guilty.
Count 2. Mr. Mothen, her husband, was charged with possession of an unlicensed firearm at the same location on the same date. Verdict, not guilty. Mrs. Mothen had been charged originally also, but after submissions of “no case to answer,” Justice Chapple said he would direct the jury to return a not guilty verdict.
Count 3. Mr. Mothen was charged with assault causing actual bodily harm to Mr. Campbell. The victim had said he was “gun-butted” or “pistol-whipped,” but Mr. Mothen said he struck with a knuckle duster because he was intimidated or provoked. Justice Chapple had instructed the jury that provocation was not a defense. Verdict, guilty.
Count 4. The Mothens were charged with assault causing actual bodily harm to Mr. Bennett. This referred to Mr. Bennett being struck by Mr. Mothen, apparently with the same object used to strike Mr. Campbell. The judge directed a not guilty verdict for Mrs. Mothen. The jury’s verdict for Mr. Mothen was guilty.
Count 5. The Mothens were charged with attempting to murder Mr. Bennett. This offense required an intent to kill, the judge explained on Tuesday. Verdict for both, not guilty.
Count 6. The Mothens were accused of attempting to cause grievous bodily harm to Mr. Bennett with intent to do grievous bodily harm. This charge was an alternative to attempted murder. Verdicts for both, not guilty.
Count 7. The Mothens and Mr. Hewitt were charged with attempting to murder Mr. Campbell. Verdicts, all not guilty.
Count 8. The Mothens and Mr. Hewitt were charged with causing grievous bodily harm with intent to Mr. Campbell. This was an alternative charge to attempted murder. Verdicts, Mrs. Mothen not guilty; Mr. Mothen and Mr. Hewitt, guilty.
Count 9. Ms. Tibbetts was accused of possessing the unlicensed firearm. Verdict, not guilty.
Justice Chapple had told the jury that the charges involving two or more defendants alleged them to have been part of a joint enterprise. Their actions did not need to be the same. A person present at an incident, but not taking part, would be not guilty, he explained. But if a person present encouraged others, he or she would be guilty, he said.
The judge had also provided jurors with a “route to verdict” – questions they were to consider in sequence for each defendant for each count.
After the verdicts were delivered, lead counsel Icah Peart asked that Mrs. Mothen be discharged and allowed to leave the dock. The judge did so.
Defense attorney Crister Brady asked that Ms. Tibbetts be discharged also. The judge did so, but noted that she was serving a sentence for a previous offense, so she could leave the dock but remain in custody.
Ms. Tibbetts was sentenced in September to 16 months imprisonment after she admitted carrying 85.4 grams of ganja in her child’s diaper with intent to supply it to a serving prisoner at Northward in August 2016. With half-credit for time on curfew and electronic monitor, she was to serve 13 and a half months.
For Mr. Mothen and Mr. Hewitt, court was to resume Wednesday afternoon, when their attorneys were scheduled to speak in mitigation. Their remand in custody continued.