By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
A man’s half-century sentence for murdering another man as he was dancing with his girlfriend in a sports bar in Grand Bahama five years ago has been upheld by the Court of Appeal.
Yvener Philome lost his bid at appealing his 50-year-sentence for murdering Leonardo “Yellow” Pierre at the Sony Sports Bar in March 2014.
According to the Crown’s case, on March 30, 2014, at approximately 10:30pm, Pierre and his girlfriend Gina Lubin were dancing inside Sony’s Sports Bar, also known as the Boom Boom Room in the Gardens Villas area, otherwise known as “The Ghetto” in Freeport when a gunman shot Pierre in the back of his head.
When Pierre fell face down on the ground, the gunman stood over him and fired several more shots into his body.
Ms Lubin testified that while dancing with her boyfriend, she heard one gunshot and asked him if he had heard the same. When he did not answer her, she turned around to face him, at which point he fell face down on the ground.
She said she subsequently stood two feet away from the gunman as he stood over Pierre and fired shots into his body. She also said that when the shooter was done, she took out her cell phone to call the police, but when she realized the shooter was looking at her, she put her cell phone back in her pocket.
The gunman then left. He had nothing covering his face.
On April 4, 2014, Ms Lubin attended an identification parade where she picked out Philome as the shooter. Philome was then informed that he was positively identified as the gunman. He said nothing in response.
Edgar Mark Ferguson, who was also in the sport’s bar when the shooting occurred, also testified that on the night in question, after he heard one gunshot, he looked around the bar and saw Philome standing over Pierre with a gun in his hand and that he subsequently heard other shots ring out. He said on the following morning, sometime between 5 and 5:30, he saw Philome in the bush in the back of his residence when he was on his way to work.
Mr Ferguson said that at about 7 o’clock that morning he received a phone call from Philome, who asked him where he was. Mr Ferguson said he told Philome he was at work, but he didn’t want him to call him anymore and subsequently hung up the phone. Between thirty minutes to an hour later Mr Ferguson said police came to his place of employment and took him into custody.
He said he was questioned in reference to the incident and that he told the police that Philome was the shooter and that he had last seen Philome in the bush in the back of his residence. Mr Ferguson then took the officers to the bush where he claimed he had last seen Philome. Upon searching the area, officers discovered a black and gray coloured 40 Ruger pistol and a magazine next to it.
The Crown was able to establish through the evidence of two firearm examiners that it was the same weapon that was used in the shooting.
Another individual, Avery Lightbourne, also testified that on the night in question, he had gone to work at around 10pm and left shortly afterwards to visit his girlfriend at the Bonanza Bar. On the way there, he said, he gave Philome a lift in his 2002 White Ford Ranger and that when they arrived in “The Ghetto” at Johnny’s Shop, he watched as Philome jumped out of the truck before he in turn jumped out and left his keys in the truck.
Mr Lightbourne then went inside and fell asleep. However, he was later wakened by someone who gave him certain information and when he checked, he noticed that the truck was missing. He walked straight to the police station to report the truck stolen, as he did not give anyone permission to use the truck.
At about 7am on March 31, 2014, officers arrested Philome when he came out of the same set of bushes where Mr Ferguson claimed he saw him. It was also established that Philome also lived in the vicinity of the same bush.
The truck Lightbourne had reported missing was also found in the vicinity of the same bushes where Philome was arrested. The Crown asked the jury to infer that it was Philome who had taken the truck from the place where Lightbourne had parked it; and that it was Philome who had driven it to the area near the same bushes behind Kirby Court where the firearm was found and from which he had emerged.
On April 4, 2014, at about 6pm, police conducted a confrontation between Philome and Mr Ferguson and both maintained that the other shot Pierre.
Philome, meanwhile, gave sworn evidence at the trial in which he denied involvement in Pierre’s murder and simultaneously accused Mr Ferguson of shooting the deceased. According to the ruling, Philome’s evidence largely mirrored what he had told the police both in his record of interview and at the confrontation.
In his sworn testimony, Philome told the court that on March 31, 2014, he and Mr Lightbourne were together for the entire evening and that they eventually ended up by AJ’s Shop in Garden Villas where they met up with someone by the name of Pilly. From there, they ended up going to Sony’s Sports Bar.
Philome said once there, they met up with Mr Ferguson, who called him in the bathroom and told him that a guy who was in the bar who had violated him had to go. Philome said he then told Mr Ferguson that everyone saw them walk into the bathroom and that if something happened to the person who violated him, everyone would say they were involved.
Nonetheless, Philome said he and Mr Ferguson returned to the dance floor and Pilly walked up to him and asked him if he wanted something to drink. Philome replied that he wasn’t interested in a drink and Pilly consequently went back to the DJ booth. Philome said he subsequently turned around and saw when Mr Ferguson pulled out a gun and shot Pierre.
Philome said he subsequently ran out of the building straight to the 2002 White Ford Ranger truck and drove home. He acknowledged that the truck belonged to Mr Lightbourne, but claimed Mr Lightbourne gave him permission to drive the truck.
Philome said once he got home, he parked the truck in the back of a building and walked through a track road, which commenced in the back of the building and led to his home, before going inside his home.
He said when he woke up the following morning to use the restroom, someone was utilizing it so he went outside in the bush to relieve himself. He said after he did that, police officers came into the bush, arrested him and told him he was being arrested in reference to murder.
Philome told the Court that he did not have a gun on him on the night in question, that he did not hide in the bushes next to Kirby Court. He further claimed that he and Pierre were good friends, that they went to primary school straight up to high school together and that they used to sleep in each other’s houses.
He also said that the last time he had an issue with Pierre was in 2010 while gambling together; however, he said they had since squashed the issue. He further maintained that at the time of Pierre’s death, there were no problems between them and they still visited each other.
On the evening of April 4, 2014, Philome was charged with Pierre’s murder. He made no reply to the charge.
Philome was arraigned in the Supreme Court on one count of murder on June 22, 2015. He pleaded not guilty to the charge.
The Crown called 17 witnesses in support of its case against Philome, who, following the close of the Crown’s case, gave sworn evidence, but called no witnesses.
Philome was convicted of murder on June 30, 2015. He was sentenced to 50 years for the crime on October 15, 2015.