The jury of six men and six women, sworn in for the trial of William Ian Rivers on a charge of murder, heard closing speeches on Friday from Director of Public Prosecutions Cheryll Richards and defense attorney Crister Brady.
The Crown’s position, as summarized by Ms. Richards, is that the fatal shooting of Mark “Hubba” Seymour in West Bay on the afternoon of Jan. 28, 2017 was murder. Mr. Brady said the defendant’s mental state should lead jurors to conclude that the shooting was manslaughter.
The difference, both counsel agreed, was intent.
Ms. Richards said intent could be inferred. When an individual discharges a loaded firearm at another person multiple times at close range, “you are intending that person’s death,” she said.
Cayman’s Penal Code makes it clear that when a person kills another, he shall not be convicted of murder if he is suffering from such abnormality of mind as to substantially impaired his mental responsibility for his acts. This is referred to as “diminished responsibility.” The abnormality of mind might have arisen from a condition of arrested or retarded development of mind or any inherent causes or induced by disease or injury, Ms. Richards explained.
On a charge of murder, it is for the defense to prove that the person charged is, because of diminished responsibility, not liable to be convicted of murder. He or she is instead liable to be convicted of manslaughter.
After police and civilian evidence concluded, Mr. Brady called two expert witnesses, Dr. Ali Ajaz, who is a forensic psychiatrist, and Dr. Omotayo Bernard, a general psychiatrist, both of whom discussed Mr. Rivers’ mental state.
In rebuttal, Ms. Richards called Dr. Wade Myers, a clinical psychiatrist, and Dr. Yusuf Matthew Grant, a general medical physician and currently senior resident in psychiatry in Cayman.
Based on their testimony, Ms. Richards said Mr. Rivers had been found to be aggressive, irritable, manipulative and impulsive. “He has an antisocial personality disorder which did not substantially impair his mental responsibility for his act, she said, concluding this personality disorder was not a disease of the mind.
There was no doubt Mr. Rivers had been drinking before the shooting, but “voluntary intoxication” is not a defense, she pointed out.
After the shooting, Mr. Rivers went to his wife’s house and was there with her and their children. Jurors had heard the recording of a 911 call, Ms. Richards reminded them. There was no doubt from the recording that Mr. Rivers was angry and distressed, but he was also coherent. He orchestrated the situation so that he could leave the house and give himself up to police on his terms, she said.
There was evidence that Mr. Rivers was depressed because he was unemployed and not able to provide for his family; he was upset by people telling him that his wife had asked for money from Mr. Seymour, who was an ex-boyfriend.
Ms. Richards said these were experiences faced by other people, but other people did not resort to violence. A possible affair is not a defense to murder and not a license to kill, she pointed out.
Mr. Brady asked jurors to look at not only what happened the day of Mr. Seymour’s death but also Mr. Rivers’s history and conduct before that day and after. Then they had to ask themselves if they had any doubt about Mr. Rivers’s mental capacity at the time.
He described the circumstances of the shooting as bizarre. Mr. Rivers had ridden his bicycle to Super C Restaurant after Mr. Seymour had driven there. When Mr. Seymour came out, Mr. Rivers shot him. Mr. Brady wondered, why didn’t Mr. Rivers wear a disguise or cover his head or do anything to prevent his identity from being known?
Mr. Rivers loved his children and his wife, the attorney said, asking, would he consciously and knowingly do something that would keep him from being with them?
The court had heard from four medical experts, but it did not take an expert to say that something was wrong, Mr. Brady suggested. The defendant’s conduct was not normal behavior, he said. Mr. Rivers was depressed. Jurors had heard about incidents in his past.
He was using cocaine and ganja.
“No one knows when an acute stressor might push just enough to get a person who is psychotic over the edge,” Mr. Brady said.
Justice Frank Williams told jurors he would give them his summation of the evidence and directions in law on Monday morning.