Appeal against murder conviction dismissed
The conviction of the two men jailed for the murder of Randy Robinson is safe, according to a Court of Appeal judgment.
Both Devon Hewey and Jay Dill were sentenced to life in prison for the 2011 shooting after being found guilty by unanimous verdict.
However, they both launched a multipronged appeal, attacking the evidence in the case and accusing the trial judge, Carlisle Greaves, of bias.
During their trial, the court heard that on the evening of March 31, 2011, Mr Robinson was walking from his home to a house on Border Lane North, Devonshire, when he was shot by two men on a dark motorcycle.
While no witnesses directly identified Dill or Hewey as the suspects, prosecutors noted that both the defendants' DNA and gunshot residue component particles were found on motorcycles seized from the property adjacent to Hewey's home.
Further component particles were found on clothing belonging to the defendants. During an appeal hearing, defence lawyer Susan Mulligan, representing Hewey, sought permission to cite new evidence, including an affidavit by a witness who reportedly saw the suspects flee the scene.
While the witness was not able to identify the suspects, in the affidavit he said he knew Hewey was not involved.
The appeal panel found that the evidence would be hearsay and inadmissible, and it was “doubtful” that the witness had seen the bike involved in the murder as he described an entirely different type of motorcycle.
Ms Mulligan also sought to introduce evidence from a witness who had claimed someone else had confessed to murdering Robinson. However, the panel found the witness was unreliable because he had repeatedly confirmed and retracted the statement in the following months.
The defendants also appealed their conviction under multiple grounds, including that the jury had not been properly directed by Mr Justice Greaves and that evidence linking the defendants to gang activity should not have been admitted. They similarly objected to the admittance of GSR evidence as only components of GSR were found.
Dill also argued, through defence lawyer Marc Daniels, that the jury may have been placed under undue pressure because of safety concerns raised during the trial.
The jury reported seeing people in the public gallery wearing “gang colours”, one person staring at the jury and another holding a mobile phone.
While there was an application to dismiss the jury, the judge instead placed additional security precautions in and around the court. In a written reason for decision, the appeal panel found that the judge had properly and fairly directed the jury on the evidence of the case.
In regard to the security concerns, they found Mr Justice Greaves was “well placed” to assess the situation and exercise his discretion.
“No further concerns were expressed by the jury and there is no basis for this court interfering with the judge's decision,” the panel wrote.
While the appeal panel found that the evidence in the case was circumstantial, the case against both defendants was compelling.
“There were many threads to the circumstantial evidence and it was a matter for the jury what they made of them both individually and collectively,” they wrote.
“When one considers the evidence as a whole there was in our judgment a compelling case against each appellant.
“The verdict is safe and these are our reasons for dismissing their appeals against conviction.”
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