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Lawyer: Crown’s DNA and gunshot residue evidence ‘meaningless and worthless’

A lawyer representing a man convicted of attempted murder said that DNA and gunshot residue (GSR) evidence should never have been put before the jury.

Lawyer Craig Attridge yesterday told the Court of Appeals that the GSR evidence against Sanchey Grant would not have been accepted in a UK court and the DNA linking him to the firearm used was “meaningless and worthless”.

Grant, together with co-defendant Jahmel Blakeney, was sentenced to 30 years behind bars for attempting to kill Shaki Minors and his pregnant girlfriend Renee Kuchler in a 2009 shooting. The pair are now appealing their conviction.

The court had heard that the victims were both shot multiple times while leaving the Southside Cinema in St David's.

While both survived the attack, Ms Kuchler lost her child as a result of the injuries suffered and Mr Minors suffered lasting numbness in his fingers due to the attack.

Blakeney and Grant were arrested in the hours following the shooting after running through a police roadblock in St David's.

Prosecutors alleged that Blakeney had masterminded the attack after seeing the victims at the cinema, while Grant was the gunman.

The shooting was allegedly committed as payback for a shooting a week earlier in which members of the Parkside gang were targeted.

Prosecutors linked Grant and Blakeney to the incident through DNA and GSR evidence but Mr Attridge said yesterday the evidence was more prejudicial than probative.

He said that the court had heard that the likelihood of DNA on the hand grip of the firearm coming from Grant was “ridiculously low” — one in two in the black Bermudian population.

Mr Attridge said that while Puisne Judge Carlisle Greaves had told the jury they should not place any value in the results, the evidence should have never been put before the jury or completely withdrawn.

The lawyer also argued that the results of GSR tests on the back of Grant's hand and a bag found in his bedroom should also have been disregarded as neither of the items were found to have three-component GSR.

While three-componend GSR made up of lead, barium and antimony fused together, can only come from the discharge of a firearm, particles containing only one or two of the elements can come from other sources such as brake pad lining.

Mr Attridge said that in the UK neither of the results would not have been put before the court because anything less than three particles of true GSR are inadmissible.

The lawyer also criticised the prosecutor's use of gang evidence to imply motive on the defendants, saying that while such evidence can be used support a case where identification evidence is strong, it should not be used to bolster a case where such evidence is poor.

“It's one thing to attach to very strong evidence of identification a motive but it's quite different when there is no such link to the specific individual to find guilt from a colleagues motive,” he said.

Lawyer Charles Richardson, representing Blakeney, also challenged Mr Justice Greave's description of gang evidence in the summary, noting that while Police gang expert Sgt Alex Rawlins called Blakeney an “associate” of Parkside, the judge repeatedly referred to him as a “member” of the gang.

Mr Richardson also said the judge had made unfair comments about his decision not to cross examine a Crown witness about why Blakeney had left the theatre on the evening of the shooting.

The witness, Jalicia Crockwell, had told a friend via text message that they left the theatre after he “saw some guy” but on the stand said she had only assumed that was the reason.

Blakeney, meanwhile, claimed he had left because he had been “tricked” into seeing a film he didn't want to see.

Mr Richardson said that in the judges' directions, he suggested that Mr Richardson had not cross examined Ms Crockwell because he didn't want to hear the response or because he had not been instructed by Blakeney about the conflict, implying that the defendant made up his story.

He said the direction went “way, way too far”, arguing that such a direction can only be made when a lawyer attempts to impeach a witness without putting the client's case to them.

“It was not my case that Ms Crockwell knew why they left,” Mr Richardson said. “Why would I put it to her? She said she assumed.”

The matter is set to continue today.

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Published March 07, 2014 at 8:00 am (Updated March 06, 2014 at 10:12 pm)

Lawyer: Crown’s DNA and gunshot residue evidence ‘meaningless and worthless’

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