By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE three men convicted of murdering American sailor Kyle Bruner during his attempt to prevent a robbery of two female tourists five years ago will remain behind bars, the Court of Appeal has ruled.
Former appellate president Dame Anita Allen, and Justices Jon Isaacs and Stella Crane-Scott said the appeals by Craig Johnson, Anton Bastian and Marcellus Williams were “all without merit”, thus warranting them being dismissed.
Simultaneously, the appellate tribunal dismissed the Crown’s appeal against the sentences of the three men, which range from 40-45 years, charging that like that of the convicts, the Crown’s appeal does not have any merit.
Bruner was fatally shot in May 2013.
According to the ruling, around 3am on May 12, 2013, Bruner and his co-worker Sean Cannif went to the Hammerheads Bar on Bay Street. While there they met two women, Hayley Sayer and Jane Robinson, along with Ben Myers. They all left Hammerheads Bar in two cars and went to Double D’s to get some food.
Meanwhile, around 4am, Williams, Johnson, Bastian, Jamal Dorfevil and Leo Bethel were in a car near the Double D’s restaurant on Mackey Street. Earlier, the trio had agreed to rob people at Hammerheads on East Bay Street, and then later on Mackey Street.
Dorfevil was the driver of the car in which Bastian, Williams and Johnson were passengers.
While in the car, Bethel pointed out two white women in a group of five people, and the five all agreed to snatch the women’s purses.
Williams, Johnson and Bastian came out of the car. As Williams exited the car he saw Johnson with a firearm. Williams then snatched a purse from one of the women, and Bastian snatched another purse from the other woman.
After doing so, Williams and Bastian both fled the scene. While Williams and Bastian were running away with the purses, a struggle arose between Johnson and Bruner.
Cannif heard someone shouting and as he turned around he saw Sayer running behind a black male, and another black male struggling with Bruner over a purse. The person struggling with Bruner had a firearm in his right hand.
Bruner pushed the gunman, who consequently fell backwards. The gunman then fired a single shot at Bruner who fell to the ground. The medical evidence revealed that Bruner died as a result of the gunshot injury.
Sometime later, Bastian turned himself in to police and gave two oral statements. In the first statement, Bastian told a Superintendent Clarke: “Mr Clarke, I ga tell you the truth. I was at Double D’s when the vibe gone down but I ain’t shoot nobody. One dude name Craig Johnson who we does call Monks who live off St James Road, had a gun and he shoot the white man.”
Corporal 1077 Seymour recorded Bastian as saying in his second statement: “Man, they have me lock up for shooting the white man….Seymour, I only take the white woman bag. I ain’t shoot no one.”
Meanwhile, in his record of interview, Johnson confirmed he was around Double D’s restaurant with Bastian, Bethel, “Slowly” and the driver who was a friend of Bethel’s. He said Bastian handed him a firearm when they exited the car.
Johnson said he was ahead of Bastian and “Slowly” when he heard a woman scream. “Slowly” had snatched that woman’s purse and Bastian snatched the purse of another woman. Johnson said when he asked Bastian what was happening, Bastian told him to run. He did not, however, and said a man came running towards him calling him all types of names.
Johnson said he asked the man to calm down and the man swung at him with his hands. Johnson then took the firearm out of his pocket and during a fight for the firearm it fired. He said he did not mean to shoot the man.
Johnson also said the details of the interview and statement he gave under caution were unreliable because they resulted from oppression by the officers. Johnson claimed that on the day in question he was at home with his mother. He went to CDU where Sgt. Johnson and Corporal 2586 Evans approached him and took him to a small room for questioning.
While there, one of the officers said, according to the ruling “…You know what we is do with young punks like y’all who is tell us a bunch of f*.” Then, he claimed the officer said, “We is kill punks like y’all.”
Johnson also claimed he was beaten by police and a bag was placed over his head. After denying any knowledge of the murder, Johnson said he went to a room where Sgt Johnson told him to sign some papers he was holding or be killed. Being scared, Johnson said he signed the papers.
Williams, meanwhile, denied knowing Johnson, Bethel, Bastian and Dorfevil, and denied knowledge of the murder and armed robbery. He also claimed he was bagged and strangled, punched in his stomach and altogether beaten by the officers to get him to talk. He further claimed officers told him while beating him that if he signed a piece of paper, they would release him with a charge of stealing only.
Bastian, in sworn evidence, denied all charges and contested the oral statements credited to him. He also said the officers beat him while he was in custody and gave an alibi that he was at his girlfriend’s house when the incident occurred.
Nonetheless, Cannif identified Johnson as the man with the firearm who shot and killed Bruner on two occasions—once at an identification parade as well as in court during the trial, which started on September 21, 2015 and ended on November 3, 2015.
At the end of the trial before Justice Indra Charles, the jury found Williams, Johnson and Bastian guilty of one count of murder and two counts of robbery.
The Crown had urged Justice Charles to sentence the three men to death for the roles they each played in Bruner’s death.
However, after taking into account the three years each man had spent on remand, Justice Charles sentenced Johnson to 42 years for murder and 12 years on each count of armed robbery to run concurrently; Williams to 37 years for murder to run concurrently with 12-year sentences on each of the two armed robbery counts; and Bastian to 37 years for murder and 12 years on each of the armed robbery counts.