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Posted: Tuesday 23 October, 2007 at 11:56 AM
    Accused Police Murderer’s fate in jury’s hands
    By Suelika N. Buchanan
    Romeo Cannonier
    (Basseterre; St. Kitts): 
      The fate of Romeo Cannonier, the man accused of brutally murdering Police Constable #454, on July 25, 2004, now rests in the hands of the jury, which comprises of five men and seven women. Their decision is expected to come later today, Tuesday, 23rd October.
     The Prosecuting team rested its case against the accused on Friday last, October 19th, and then closing arguments from both the Prosecuting team and the Defence team were heard on Monday, October 22nd. 

    In his closing arguments, Sir Richard Cheltenham, lead Counsel for the Prosecution, said that the prosecution is relying on circumstantial evidence and related facts.


    “Nisbett died at the hands of Cannonier. It was a deliberate and intentional. The deceased was shot with a gun belonging to Michael Powell,” Sir Cheltenham said.
    “Makenya Lawrence said in court that Cannonier told her he killed the police because he use to ‘rough him up’ in jail, Gavin Gilbert’s testimony said that Cannonier hated policemen,” he added.
    “There is no justification or excuse for killing a person, nor does the law allow you to because you hate someone or they roughed you up. Not in this civilized society do we accept the brutal manner in which Nisbett was killed,” Sir Cheltenham continued.
    The Counsel for the Prosecution said that there are two striking features in this case that may be divided into two categories, one being confessional statements and the other scientific evidence.

    ~~Adz:Right~~ He noted that the prisoner had the opportunity to commit the crime and reiterated that both were at the same place at the same time.
    “The number of shots speaks of an intentional killing and the area of where it happened speaks of an ambush,” he said.
    Sir Cheltenham also stated that Cannonier was also busy trying to recruit false witnesses and proof of this was that Cannonier wanted Gilbert to say that he knew Makenya and that she wore false hair.
    “Makenya is an important witness in this case. It is not an ethical issue of whether she slept with two men at the same time or not. What Cannonier told her the morning after the murder is the issue that needs to be looked at. He was behaving in a highly suspicious manner and he told her he had done something very bad,” Sir Cheltenham noted.
    “He (Cannonier) told her (Makenya) if she told anyone what he had told her he would beat her up. He also told her that no one else should know that he took money from the police,” he said.
    “In that same month he told her he had taken Powell’s gun. The very same gun reported missing by Powell and what was later identified as the murder weapon,” he added
    The prosecution also highlighted the evidence from Lionel Warner and described him as a messenger of death.
    Cheltenham said that Warner was given messages that were diectives to kill two others- Gilbert and “a girl”.
    “It is not difficult to work out that the ‘girl’ was Makenya, who Cannonier claimed was telling lies on him,” Sir Cheltenham noted.
    “Cannonier is not a fool. His messages that were sent out with Gilbert and Warner were specifically about hiding a gun and not being caught with it because it was the said gun used in the killing of the police,” he said.
    “Cannonier thought that if he could hide the gun, the Police would never link him to the crime. The gun was important but there are more pieces of evidence against Cannonier in this matter,” the Prosecution Counsel added.
    Among some of the evidence sent to the FBI Lab in Washington was the money found on Cannonier.
     ~~Adz:Left~~ “Blood belonging to the accused was found on one of the bank notes. Bullet cartridges found at the scene also belonged to the said Michael Powell’s gun,” Cheltenham said.
    “The case isn’t whether or not Makenya was intimate with two men at the same time, as my learned friend is trying to highlight, but whether her evidence matches that of the others,” he added.
    Hesketh Benjamin, lead Counsel for the Defence, began his summations with the point that the crown cannot attach his client to the murder physically.
    “No witness came and said they saw him commit the murder,” he said.
    “The Crown is pressing circumstantial evidence but they are not telling you that circumstantial evidence can mean fabrication to cast suspicion on another,” he outlined.
    Benjamin noted that both the Police Sergeant and Makenya testified and said they did not see blood on the money.
    “They trying to pin him with a $5 note,” Benjamin said.
    Benjamin also questioned why the Police, who testified and said that he saw Cannonier throw something in a ghaut, didn’t investigate what he saw.
    “Makenya had a growing malice against Cannonier, her rent was owing and due and the accused told her he’s not paying it, ‘go look for her man Powell’, so she made up these lies on Cannonier,” he said.
    Today, Tuesday, Oct. 23, His Lordship Francis Belle, will charge or instruct the jurors before they retire for deliberations. The judge will review the evidence, explain the law that should be applied to the facts of the case and explain the verdicts that can be reached.
    The jury must accept the judge’s explanation of the law but they are the sole judge of facts in the case.
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