By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
DWYANE Belizaire yesterday vehemently denied murdering his godmother but could not explain how his DNA was found under her fingernails and inside a condom police found in bushes behind the the victim’s home.
Belizaire, 33, took the stand yesterday morning after the prosecution closed its case, giving sworn testimony from the witness box.
He is accused of killing Margaret Smith, who was found dead at her residence in Seagrape, Eight Mile Rock, three years ago on Valentine’s Day. She had been strangled and immersed in water.
Belizaire claimed he would never hurt his godmother because he had no reason to harm her.
“I would never in a million years hurt my goddie. I had no reason or intention to hurt her because she was a close personal friend of the family,” he said during cross-examination by Prosecutor Erica Kemp.
When asked by Ms Kemp why his DNA was found under the deceased’s fingernails, the accused replied: “I have no idea how it got there.”
Belizaire told the court that on the day in question - February 14, 2017 - he got up that morning and headed to his mother, Carolyn Outten’s house, which is not far away from where he lived at Mabel Taylor’s House.
He said he walked the track road behind Margaret Smith’s house, where he saw the deceased standing outside.
While passing by, he wished Smith a happy Valentine’s Day. She nodded, and he continued walking to his stepmother, Juliet Hall’s house, before proceeding to his mother’s house to extend good wishes to his sister and mother.
After staying there for a while, Belizaire went back through the track road near Smith’s residence and sat in an old car next to an abandoned building where he and his friends would frequently hang out “to shoot the breeze, smoke, and talk.”
He then walked to Lula Hall’s house to pick-up a WiFi signal to download movies on his cellphone and dozed off to sleep.
Belizaire got up and went back to Mable Taylor’s house, and then to his friend Leonard Black’s residence in Pine Forest, where they played video games and smoked “a joint”.
The defendant said he stayed there until Black’s little brother and sisters came home from school, then he went to play basketball before returning to Seagrape.
When he arrived home, Mabel and another woman told Belizaire that Margaret Smith had fallen in the tub and was taken away in an ambulance.
Belizaire said when he went to the track road he saw police caution lines and saw a lot of people were standing outside in the area.
The defendant said he went out on a date with that night to the movies.
Attorney Jethlyn Burrows asked Belizaire if he had seen the deceased any other time later in the day. “No,” he replied.
“Where do you live in relation to your (godmothers) residence?” she asked her client. Belizaire said he lived in the back of Margaret Smith’s residence, which is separated by a track road which he uses daily to get back and forth to his mother and stepmother.
Mrs Burrows asked the defendant about scratches to his body. He said they were made by his baby’s mother Juliet Williams during lovemaking and also during an altercation. She asked the defendant to lift his shirt and show the injuries he was referring to.
“Did you murder Margaret Smith?” Burrows asked her client. “No Ma’am, I did not,” the defendant said. He said that he knew Smith for many years.
“Her and my mother is friends,” he explained.
Belizaire said the last time he was in Smith’s presence in her house was during the end of December and the beginning of January when she asked him to help lift a new fridge she had bought inside the house.
Under cross-examination, Prosecutor Kemp asked the defendant if he could recall what Smith was wearing when he saw her on the morning of February 14, 2017. Belizaire said he could only remember her wearing pajama pants.
The crown prosecutor suggested to the defendant the scratches he had received on his body were from Margaret Smith, and not from his child’s mother.
“That’s how your DNA came to be under her (Smith) fingernail,” Mrs Kemp suggested. “I disagree totally,” replied Belizaire.
The prosecutor suggested to the defendant after he left his mother’s house, he stopped at Smith’s house while she was having breakfast that morning.
“She was wearing her tank top, ‘Party All Night’ and for some reason, you came onto Margaret Smith and she rejected you,” suggested Mrs Kemp. The accused rejected this assertion.
Belizaire denied Kemp’s suggestion that he became angry and took a knife and cut off Smith’s blouse and bra off, and cut her collar bone, and made punctures in her back.
He further denied suggestions he took a condom and used it on Margaret Smith to have sex.
Kemp suggested the defendant also bit Smith on the arm, and fought with her.
“You put your hands around the neck of Margaret Smith; your hands were around her throat until you fractured the bone,” the prosecutor said.
“I can’t remember, I wasn’t there,” insisted Belizaire.
Mrs Kemp suggested the scratches to the defendant’s hands were made when Smith was trying to get them from around her neck.
”That’s how your DNA got under her fingernails,” she asserted.
“No Ma’am, I was not there at the house, I can’t tell you how it got there,” he said.
Belizaire also denied filling a tub with water and dunking Smith’s head in the water.
Mrs Kemp then questioned the defendant about a condom which was found in the bushes, along with several items belonging to the deceased, including a tank top with Party All Night’, a panty, keys to Smith’s home and a blouse.
She said forensic analysis conducted by police revealed that the DNA found in the condom was Belizaire’s.
Belizaire said he could not say how that happened, and denied assertions that he had discarded the condom, along with the items from Smith’s house in the bushes after killing her.
Mrs Kemp said no one knew his whereabouts between 10am and noon on February 14, 2017.
She asked Belizaire about the blood that Mable Taylor saw on his shirt on the day question.
Belizaire admitted Ms Taylor saw blood on his shirt and had asked him about it. He said he told her it was from playing basketball.
Leonard Black, a friend of Belizaire, was called by the defence to testify.
In his testimony, Black said the defendant arrived at his house before noon on the morning of February 14, 2017.
However, Prosecutor Kemp produced cellphone text messages between him and the defendant that day which showed that Belizaire had not in fact arrived at Black’s house in Pine Forest until 12.44pm on the day in question. When confronted with this, Black changed his testimony.
“So, you cannot account for the defendant’s whereabouts during the morning hours of February 14, 2017?”
“No’ Ma’am,” replied Black.
The trial resumes today when the prosecution and the defence will bring closing arguments to the jury. Acting Chief Justice Estelle Gray Evans is presiding over the matter.