By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Court of Appeal has overturned a man’s manslaughter conviction for killing another man in Super Value’s parking lot because while his fingerprint was found on the deceased’s vehicle, there was no evidence as to how long it was there.
Due to the “tenuous nature” of the case’s evidence, a retrial has not been ordered. The appellate tribunal of Justices Jon Isaacs, Stella Crane-Scott and Milton Evans unanimously quashed Kesnor Lexidor’s conviction and 20-year sentence for killing Tamar Morley aka “Rasta” in 2009.
The appellate judges said Lexidor’s appeal “must be allowed” because the fingerprint evidence—the only admissible evidence against him and upon which his conviction could properly be founded, could “at its highest” only show that he came into contact with the deceased’s truck “at some indeterminate point in time”.
According to the ruling, on December 23, 2009, Morley was sitting in his truck in the parking lot of Super Value’s Golden Gates location waiting on his wife when a man armed with a handgun, and alleged to be Lexidor, entered the truck’s cab with intentions of robbing him.
There was a struggle during the course of which Morley was shot. He later died from his injuries.
Lexidor was charged along with Valentino Yustare with murder and armed robbery. The Crown’s case at trial was that Morley was shot and killed by Lexidor in the commission of the armed robbery, and that Yustare had acted in concert by driving him to the scene of the crime.
Following a trial before Justice Bernard Turner, both Lexidor and Yustare were acquitted of murder, but were unanimously convicted of manslaughter. Lexidor was subsequently sentenced to 20 years and six months in prison, which reflected the time he spent on remand.
The evidence against Lexidor was the discovery of a single fingerprint on the passenger door on the right side of Morley’s truck. That evidence was led through Reserve Superintendent Clifford Ferguson, a senior latent print examiner whom the trial judge had deemed to be an expert in fingerprints and examination of fingerprints.
The Crown had thus tried to assert that the presence of Lexidor’s fingerprint on the truck’s right hand door must lead to the “irresistible conclusion” that he was the person who entered Morley’s truck on the night in question and shot and robbed him.
However, the appellate judges said such an assertion was “fraught with difficulties” because the Crown’s case also contained evidence of four other fingerprints found on the right passenger door of Morley’s truck and were never identified as belonging to certain people.
Furthermore, there was no evidence adduced by the Crown to give a time frame for when Lexidor’s fingerprint may have been placed there. Additionally, Res Supt Ferguson testified at trial that finger marks could be lifted from a surface up to three years after they would have been initially placed.
Thus, the appellate judges said the fact that fingerprints may remain on an object for up to three years after being placed there, combined with the presence of the “other unidentifiable fingerprints” should have caused the trial judge to stop the trial and direct the jury to acquit Lexidor.
“In the premises we were satisfied that the appeal must be allowed,” Justice Isaacs said. “Thus, we quashed the conviction and set aside the sentence. Due to the tenuous nature of the evidence led in the case against (Lexidor) we did not order a retrial.”