Murder cold cases mount
(CNS): Over the last eight years there have been 43 murders in the Cayman Islands, 17 of which remain unsolved, according to statistics released by the RCIPS to CNS on Monday. While the police have charged suspects in 26 of the murder cases since the year Hurricane Ivan struck Grand Cayman, not all of them resulted in successful prosecutions. The detection rate for murder going back to 2004 is an average of just over 60%, mostly as a result of five of last year’s six murders remaining unsolved. Many of the cases that have not been detected as well as those that failed to secure a conviction were gang related murders, which have proved to be the most difficult for police to solve and have caused Cayman’s cold cases to grow. (Photo Dennie Warren jr)
Although the police have had assistance from overseas in efforts to solve the most recent and past cold case shootings, there are still a significant number of murders in which no one has been brought to justice over the last eight years. With a combination of reluctant witnesses and a culture of mistrust of the police, despite a number of changes to the legislation to make it easier to secure convictions, the RCIPS still struggle to solve the gang related shootings.
The police statistics are recorded as "detected or undetected", meaning either charges were brought or not against suspects. In several cases where charges were filed and defendants tried in the Grand Court, the prosecutions failed or convictions were overturned on appeal. In some cases the judge even ruled that there was no case to answer before a trial was complete.
Back in 2004 the police faced six killings, three of which police referred to as "detected" but three remain unsolved some eight years later. The RCIPS brought charges in three cases but the charges against two suspects in the gang murder of Chadwick Bush were dropped after a witnesses retracted her statement, and in the fatal shooting of Joseph Williams the judge found there was no case for the defendants charged in that murder to answer.
In 2005 the police solved two out of the year’s three murders but the killing of 30-year-old Todd Powery, who was shot seventeen times in Morgan's Harbour, West Bay, has never been solved. In 2006 the police made a 100% detection rate for the year’s three killings. In 2007 there were three killings and police brought charges in two cases leaving one cold case.
However, in 2008 there was a surge in the murder rate with an historic high of seven killings. Police detected four of the cases but not all resulted in prosecutions. Three of the killings remain unsolved, including the murder of 18-year-old Josh Hooker, who was shot dead in his George Town home while he was with his two-year-old son.
The beaten body of 40-year-old Swiss banker Frederic Bise was found in the boot of his burned out car in February outside his West Bay home and again no charges have been brought in that case. Mark Jefferson remains the third cold case after he was shot three times and killed outside Kelly's Bar in Birch Tree Hill Road, West Bay. Despite trying Josue Carillo-Perez twice for the murder of 47-year-old Canadian national Martin Gareau in May the crown failed to secure a conviction.
The police did, however, secure a manslaughter conviction for the death of 23-year-old Aaron Berry, who was stabbed in the throat outside a Bodden Town bar during a fight. William Martinez McLaughlin was also convicted for the brutal murder of 20-year-old Brian Rankine, who was chopped and stabbed multiple times in McField Square, George Town.
The last killing of 2008 was one of Cayman’s most shocking murders. The burned body of Estella Scott-Roberts, the former director of the Crisis Centre and a tireless advocate against violence was found in Barkers in West Bay. Kirkland Henry and Larry Rickets were convicted of her murder in January 2010.
The historic high of murder rate of 2008 was surpassed again in 2009 when eight people were killed, six of which were gang related slayings. Police brought charges in five of the cases and eventually four murder convictions and one manslaughter conviction was secured.
However, the conviction of three men for the gang related shooting of Omar Samuels in McField Square, George Town, was overturned on appeal.
The first victim of 2009 was 17-year-old Jerome Russell, who was shot dead outside Shir Reynolds in George Town in January and his murder has not been solved. Two other shootings, which occurred in October and December, also remain unsolved. 24-year-old Fabian Ried was shot by a masked gun man while in his car in the Newlands area and 27-year-old Fabian Powell was gunned down outside Wellie’s Cool Spot when he was shot six times.
The following year the police continued to deal with gang related killings. Of the seven murders that year as many as five had gang related associations. Although charges were brought in six of the 2010 cases, three were lost in the courts, including the case of five-year-old Jeremiah Barnes, who was shot in the head in a West Bay gas station in February. Police believed the masked gunman was aiming for the little boy’s father, Andy Barnes, who identified Devon Anglin as his shooter but he was found not guilty at trial.
Anglin was later convicted of the shooting of Carlos Webster, who was shot in the head in July that year in a West Bay Road night club in front of some 150 people.
Ecuadorian numbers man Marcus Duran was shot and killed outside an apartment but a teenager who was charged with his killing was acquitted at trial. Police have also charged Raziel Jeffers for that murder as well as for the fatal shooting of Damion Ming. Jeffers has yet to face trial for these two killings but he was convicted in February of the murder of Marcus Ebanks, who was one of several young men who were shot at by two masked gunmen as they sat in a yard in Bonaventure Lane in July of 2009.
In March 2010 Alrick Peddie was shot by gunmen in broad daylight in his grandmother’s yard in West Bay. Three men were charged but were all acquitted after a judge alone trial. Only one conviction was secured for the 2010 gang killings after Leonard Ebanks was found guilty of shooting Tyrone Burrel (20) during a small social gathering at a yard in Birch Tree Hill, West Bay, in another gang related shooting. One man was also convicted of the manslaughter of Jack Forbes after he was beaten to death in Bodden Town.
The one remaining cold case of 2010 was the first killing of the year. Courtney Spence was shot in a car park in the industrial area in the early morning of 28 January. No one has ever been charged for that murder.
Last year the police opened six murder investigations but so far only one of the cases has been solved. Police have charged 18-year-old Chakame Jamelle Scott with the shooting of Asher McGaw, who was the last of five victims in gang related assassination which occurred over an eight day period in September last year. Scott is currently in HMP Northward now awaiting trial.
No charges in the four other fatal shootings have yet been brought and police are continuing to investigate the fatal shooting of Robert Bush, Andrew Baptise, Preston Rivers and Jason Christian.
The police also opened a murder investigation after the disappearance of Kerry (Kerryann) Baker, who went missing from her home in Bodden Town in July in suspicious circumstances. Her abandoned car was found at Pedro’s a few days after she was reported missing. Although one man was arrested for her murder, no charges have been brought.
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