By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE attorney for a man accused of murdering a gang member as part of a murder plot three years ago yesterday warned jurors that convicting his client would be akin to condoning police brutality as an appropriate method of investigation.
David Cash, Jahmaro Edgecombe’s attorney, told jurors that accepting the Crown’s claims that his client admitted to killing Kenyari Lightbourne would be like putting a “stamp of approval” on police savagery.
And without Edgecombe’s confession to police, which he asserted is “tainted with brutality and torture”, Mr Cash said the Crown’s evidence against his client consequently amounts to “nothing”.
Meanwhile, Nathan Smith, the attorney for Sean “Fire” Brown, submitted that the Crown’s evidence against his client is “pathetic” and that a “plethora of doubt” surrounds his alleged involvement in the matter.
Mr Smith said the evidence against his client is a “mere allegation” that a police officer said that when he arrested Brown, the accused confessed his involvement in the matter. But besides that officer’s claims, which Mr Smith stressed the officer made no formal note of, no “independent evidence” exists that actually links Brown to the crime.
However, lead Crown prosecutor Racquel Whymms encouraged jurors to analyse the evidence as a whole and use their “common sense” to find Edgecombe and Brown guilty of their respective crimes.
She also asserted that a guilty verdict could be the only verdict the jury could return with, as what the officer said Brown confessed to him was corroborated by what Edgecombe said in his confession to police.
Ms Whymms said that notwithstanding the allegations of police brutality, “no proof whatsoever” of those claims has been adduced in court.
The submissions were made during Edgecombe’s and Brown’s trial before Justice Cheryl Grant-Thompson concerning Lightbourne’s death.
On June 21, 2016, Lightbourne was shot multiple times while walking through his neighbourhood off Market Street. He died at the scene.
Daran Neely and Edgecombe aka “Bingy”, the alleged gunman, were arraigned within months of each other in 2016 in connection with Lightbourne’s death. Brown was charged with being an accessory after the fact.
Evidence was previously led that Edgecombe killed Lightbourne not only in furtherance of a murder plot the Crown claimed was hatched by Neely, but because he and the deceased were gang rivals.
The jury watched a video in which Edgecombe admitted to killing Lightbourne because of his affiliation with the Mad Ass gang when initially interviewed by then Detective Constable Raphael Miller just three weeks after the incident in question.
During that interview, Edgecombe said he was after Lightbourne and several other affiliates of the Mad Ass gang, namely “Spider”, “Eyes”, and “Kadi”, with the promise that he could be paid $8,000 for killing any of them. Lightbourne ended up being the one he shot and killed that day.
Edgecombe also told the officer that Neely was the one who authorised the hit on Lightbourne’s life some days before the actual murder, and that it was Neely who sent Brown to pay him the $6,000 for successfully executing the crime.
Last week, however, Justice Grant-Thompson instructed the jury to acquit Neely following submissions by his attorneys that he had no case to answer.
Subsequent to that, Edgecombe, taking the witness stand in his own defence, said officers squeezed his testicles and suffocated him with a plastic bag to get him to confess to killing Lightbourne.
However, Edgecombe said the officers who threatened and manhandled him told him they didn’t really want him; they were more interested in him implicating the “big fish”, namely Sean “Fire” Brown and Daran Neely.
And for that reason, he said officers forcibly instructed him on what to say during his record of interview, and also instructed him on what to do and say when they would ultimately record a video of him showing them exactly where and how he allegedly committed the crime.
Edgecombe also said officers tried to use allegations that he shot at the police prior to Lightbourne’s death as leverage in the situation by saying they would drop those charges against him if he cooperated with their scheme.
However, Ms Whymms encouraged jurors not to “buy into” Edgecombe’s “performance”, suggesting that it was likely a by-product of his experience in prison, which she asserted is an institution of higher learning for criminality in which accused persons discuss ways and tactics to get off criminal charges.
The case continues.