September 06, 2016
A TEEN who stood trial in the Supreme Court concerning the fatal stabbing of a schoolmate was acquitted of murder yesterday but convicted on the lesser charge of manslaughter.
The verdict came down on Monday evening following an hour-long deliberation by the 12-member jury which found that the 18-year-old accused, whose identity had been withheld because he was charged as a juvenile, was not guilty of the December 9, 2015 murder of 16-year-old Adonai Wilson. However, they returned a guilty verdict of 8-4 on the lesser charge of manslaughter, finding that the incident occurred because of provocation.
Justice Turner accepted the verdict and asked the stoic teen if there was any reason why sentence should not be passed against him. His lawyer, Murrio Ducille, requested that the judge have a probation report prepared with respect to his client before imposing a sentence. The request was granted and sentencing was adjourned to November 17.
When called on to give his defence at the conclusion of the prosecution’s case, the teen elected to remain silent and indicated that he would rely on the statement given to police a day after the incident.
The teen had told police of a confrontation he and Wilson had on December 8, 2015 but said they had resolved their differences amicably and he thought the incident was over. The following day, after finishing exams, he and his friends were walking on Prince Charles Drive and noticed that Wilson and others were walking in the same direction he was on the opposite side of the street.
At some point, he said he was struck in the back of the head and the hood of his jacket was pulled. When he came face to face with his assailant, he said Wilson armed with brass knuckles. He alleged that Wilson proceeded to punch him and he defended himself before running away to escape the fight. He denied stabbing Wilson or witnessing Wilson being stabbed.
The incident took place around 2pm on Prince Charles Drive and a graphic cell phone video of the incident was spread on social media.
Two teens – aged 17 and 15 – who were also on trial for the murder of Wilson, changed their pleas two weeks ago.
The 17-year-old pleaded not guilty to murder, but admitted guilt to the lesser charge of manslaughter. He received a sentence of nine years after the judge took into account his time spent on remand and the fact that he pleaded guilty to manslaughter. Meanwhile, the 15-year-old pleaded not guilty to murder, but admitted attempting to cause harm. He was given a sentence of six months to be served at the Simpson Penn Centre for Boys.
During the trial, the jury heard statements from two students who witnessed events leading up to Wilson’s stabbing, but could not be compelled by the prosecution to give sworn testimony in court.
One of the girls told police that on the day in question, she, the 18-year-old accused and his girlfriend left Popeyes heading east. The accused walked ahead with a group of persons while she and his girlfriend followed behind. She told police she noticed a commotion at the Superwash laundromat and noticed a fight between the accused and Wilson.
She ran towards the area where they were fighting and saw a teen, who she witnessed being given a knife by the accused when they were walking from Popeyes, run to and stab Wilson twice in the back before fleeing towards Fox Hill. She then saw Wilson run across the street towards Blanco Bleach where he collapsed, while his friends followed behind. The jury heard that the teen girl called 911 and while they waited for medical help to arrive, a friend of Wilson called out to the bleeding teen with no response.
In the second statement police received from another witness to the incident, the teen’s then girlfriend told police that on the way to their Wendy’s after leaving Popeyes, the 18-year-old accused met up with his 17-year-old cousin who was an 11th grade student at their school.
The accused, the witness told police, handed his cousin the knife when they both then went to opposite sides of the street. She said shortly afterwards she noticed her boyfriend, the accused, and Wilson “throwing punches at each other but it appeared (the accused) was losing.” It was at this time that the cousin ran up to and stabbed Adonai, according to the girlfriend.
The teen girl told police that she watched the victim run across the road to Blanco Bleach but did not know where the accused and his cousin went. When she crossed the road as well, she saw Wilson on the ground bleeding heavily. She and a group of persons remained there until police came.
An amendment to the Evidence Act in 2012 gave judges the discretion to allow the statements of witnesses who are dead, cannot be found, or are too sick to testify into evidence. However, this action meant that the 18-year-old accused, and Mr. Ducille, were unable to cross-examine the witnesses to verify the contents of the statements.
Kristan Stubbs and Bradford McKenzie prosecuted the case.
By Lamech Johnson, Tribune Staff Reporter
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