Lawyer accuses murder case witness of ‘making it all up’
Witness Andrew Laws repeated hearsay to police as he wanted to get his hands on a $100,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the murderers of Kumi Harford, Supreme Court heard.
The 52-year-old father, who lived in a tent on Parsons Road, Pembroke, at the time of Mr Harford's murder, was called “a complete liar” as he was quizzed over his motives about going to the police. Under cross-examination by defence lawyer Jerome Lynch QC, Mr Laws was accused of “making it all up” in an attempt to cash in on the money. The court had earlier heard Mr Laws saying he had gone to the police as it had been a “ruthless slaughter” and “Kumi was a good guy”, but Mr Lynch read out his initial police statement which said he was “fed up and tired of living in the trees and money talks”.
Prosecutors allege Antonio Myers, 25, an alleged member of the Middletown gang, shot Mr Harford, 30, a rival 42nd gang member, on St Monica's Road on December 5, 2009.
Mr Laws said he saw Mr Myers and a friend named “Juggler Jason” in Middletown Lane shortly after the murder of Mr Harford. Mr Laws told the court he heard “Juggler Jason” tell Mr Myers he should have brought “the f*****g clothes” to him, Mr Laws.
The two men were said to be were outside a house, which has been identified as the site of a bonfire where prosecutors allege Mr Myers tried to burn clothes he was wearing at the time of the shooting. Mr Lynch said to Mr Laws: “You are talking a load of nonsense, you are making it all up. There is no way on earth that Antonio Myers would be standing on that porch between 7 and 8am on that morning. The reason is because the place was swarming with police officers.
“There was a lot of gossip after the shooting of Kumi Harford, a lot of speculation about who was responsible. You were using hearsay to get some money.”
Mr Laws replied: “I know what I know.”
He admitted he had seen the $100,000 Crimestoppers reward being mentioned on the TV news and agreed that he was keen to “get his life together”.
He said the money was “absolutely” an attraction but insisted it “wasn't the main reason”.
Mr Laws told the court: “It could have been part of the reason but it wasn't the whole reason. I'm not going to refuse the money...I was doing my civic duty. I just want the opportunity to live right and do something right as far as all this gang violence is concerned.”
Mr Lynch also suggested to the court that Mr Laws had spoken to friend and fellow witness Edwin Darrell about the trial as they travelled to Bermuda together and sat next to one another on the plane. The defence lawyer asked if there was any collaboration between the two men, who are both part of the witness protection scheme, about what they were going to say.
Mr Laws denied this saying: “We wanted to get it over and done with and go back to where we were. We never discussed our evidence, we just didn't need to, I knew what I had to say.”
Mr Laws went to the police to give statements on three separate occasions and told the court he was scared for his safety. He said it was “the first and only time” he'd been a ‘snitch'.
He told police his life was in “serious jeopardy”, telling one officer: “I need you all to get my finances together and get me out of this Island. I need you to get me out of here as soon as possible, I don't need to be sticking around here.”
The jury also heard that Mr Laws, who admitted taking cocaine and heroin once or twice a day, was familiar with guns having owned and handled several over the years. In mid-November 2009 Mr Laws said he had been “holding” a gun for his son, Jahkeil Samuels, who police had earlier called a “shot-caller” in the Parkside gang. The gun later went missing and as a result Mr Samuels attacked his father and split his head open.
Mr Laws said that “because of his son” some people respected him more, while others hated him more. He admitted he feared his own son but added: “As far as I know there are no leaders [in Parkside], they are all equal. He doesn't consider himself to be the leader, but he does have a say.”
Detective Constable Terry Trott of the Firearms Unit told the court he had found a dark-coloured zipped-up jacket, black Nike sneakers and a pair of gloves in a bonfire next to a house on Middletown Lane at about 5.05am on December 5, 2009. He explained he was in a marked police vehicle with colleagues when he “smelled a strong smell of smoke as if something was burning”.
Det Con Trott told the court that he suspected the fire could be linked to the shooting he'd heard about over his police radio so he quickly put out the flames with a fire extinguisher and preserved the scene. He said he searched the immediate area and there was no-one around. The court later heard how Mr Myers, 25, of Rambling Lane, Pembroke, told a police officer: “I shouldn't have come back, I knew you guys were looking for me” as he was arrested in the arrivals hall of LF Wade International Airport.
Detective Constable Shannon Swan, who was then in the police drug unit, told Supreme Court he spotted Mr Myers in the arrivals hall at about 7.30pm on Sunday, January 10, 2010, shortly after the Miami flight had landed. Det Con Swan said: “It was just by chance that I saw him, I was there for another matter but I knew there was a warrant out for his arrest and I recognised him.”
Mr Myers, who was travelling with his girlfriend, was described as being “upset” at the time of his arrest.
His girlfriend was said to be “vocal and somewhat aggressive” as she questioned why he was being put in handcuffs in front of everyone.