November 06, 2012
The prosecution closed its case in a murder trial yesterday in which a man is accused of stabbing another man who was on his way to the laundromat. The last witness called in the Supreme Court yesterday was Detective Sgt Charles Knowles, formerly of the Central Detective Unit’s homicide branch, who told the court that he arrested 38-year-old Hilfrant Joseph after conducting an interview with him in the death of Christopher Butler of Hawkins Hill.
Joseph, of Millers Heights, faces a charge of murder, which he denies. It is claimed that he, on December 6, 2002, stabbed Butler in the back. The incident happened around 7pm as Butler made his way to the laundromat on Eighth Terrace. In court yesterday, officer Knowles told prosecutor Uel Johnson that he was at CDU on the day in question when he received certain information and proceeded to a home on Sixth Terrace.
Entering the home, he saw traces of what he suspected to be blood on the rails going inside and came across a towel that was “saturated” in blood. He said days later, on December 9, he interviewed Hilfrant Joseph under caution and put him under arrest in connection with the murder. Going into details about the record of the interview, Sgt Knowles told the court that Joseph would not agree to do an interview with police unless his elder brother, Harry, was present.When the conditions were met, he and then Inspector Anthony Ferguson, conducted a record of the interview under caution with the then suspect and his brother. Taking down Joseph’s answers verbatim to the various questions put to him, Sgt Knowles said he gave the suspect an opportunity to read over the record of the interview and make the necessary corrections. Sgt Knowles also told the court that Joseph willingly gave a statement to police about what he claimed had happened.
Prosecutor Johnson asked the detective to read the statement aloud for the court to hear. According to the statement, given by the accused, he was at his girlfriend’s house in Centreville. The couple left to go to the shop around 3.30pm when they ran into a man called “Rasta” (Christopher Butler). Butler brushed against him and Joseph asked “rasta” if he had a “wibe”.
His girlfriend Denise had told him to let the matter go and he did, even though he claimed to know that “Rasta” had a “wife” with him because he owed his girlfriend money and kept ducking them every payday. Joseph claimed that Butler said obscenities to him such as ‘Y’all sissy * n need to get out of my face.” He and Denise continued on their way to Wine and Spirits on Shirley Street to get a drink. They drank some along the way, Bacardi and coke, at Denise’s suggestion because she did not want her son seeing them together with alcohol. When they arrived at her place, they went inside where her son was already at home. He went back outside to eat some peanuts and exchanged words with his girlfriend’s son.
He complained to Denise about the son, but she suggested that it was best he left because she could not say anything to her son as they were paying the rent for her home. He left and along the way, encountered “Rasta” who was carrying a bundle sack. Joseph asked Butler if he had a “wibe” and noticed a beer bottle in the man’s hand positioned in a way as if he was ready to use it. Denise’s son, nicknamed “Runks”, told him to relax. However, Denise came running to the scene with a knife in her hand.
He presumed it was a kitchen knife as she had been in the kitchen previously. Denise’s son had told her to go inside, but she did not and Joseph said he was forced to twist his girlfriend’s arm to get the knife out of her grasp because of her swinging it. After getting the knife and holding it, he was tackled by Butler by the waist. Joseph said it all happened fast, but in that moment of being tackled, his hand holding the knife fell into Butler’s back. Butler got off him and complained of being stabbed before taking off up the hill. Joseph claimed that his girlfriend and her son began throwing rocks at him. He threw the knife in their direction and ran off.
He went to Mason’s Addition to a friend’s house, but left because the friend was not at home. He told the detectives that he did not hear that Butler had died until Sunday. Detective Knowles said that after the statement, he charged Joseph with murder. In cross-examination, attorney Terrel Butler asked the detective if he knew how her client had come to be in custody. The policeman said the brother of the accused turned him into police. Ms Butler asked if he would agree that her client was cooperative with the police throughout their entire investigation. The officer agreed. The attorney asked if her client had maintained that the stabbing happened as a result of self-defence. The detective answered yes. Ms Butler asked no further questions, neither did the prosecution. Lead prosecutor Franklyn Williams closed the case for the prosecution. The trial resumes tomorrow at noon with the defence expected to open its case.
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