Simmons cleared of attempted murder
A former Corporation of Hamilton alderman was found not guilty of the attempted murder of an alleged gang leader yesterday.
A jury also cleared Carlton Simmons, 40, of wounding Jahkeil Samuels with the intent of causing grievous bodily harm.
Cheers, which were silenced by Puisne Judge Charles-Etta Simmons, broke out in Supreme Court immediately after the unanimous verdict was announced.
Mr Samuels, 32, who was said in court to be a kingpin of the Parkside gang, was stabbed repeatedly in a fight at Ambiance Lounge, a Hamilton club part-owned by Mr Simmons, on August 12 last year.
Mr Simmons admitted attacking Mr Samuels but said he feared for his life.
The incident was captured by the club's CCTV footage and was shown to the jury several times during the trial.
Prosecutor Nicole Smith told the jury during the trial that the footage “clearly shows that the behaviour and circumstances surrounding the altercation were such that the accused either intended to kill Jahkeil Samuels or, at the least, wounded him with the intent to cause him serious harm”.
Mr Simmons told the court he had met Mr Samuels through his gang- intervention efforts and knew he was the leader of the Parkside gang. He said Mr Samuels had approached him at the bar and said he was the only one stopping people from killing Mr Simmons.
He said he later saw another man pass Mr Samuels an object, which he tucked in his pants.
Mr Simmons said he told Mr Samuels to leave, but as they reached the steps outside the club, Mr Samuels turned and said: “F**k this. We are going to do this right here.”
He claimed Mr Samuels punched him in the face, threatened to shoot him and then began to pull up his shirt as if he was reaching for something in his pants.
Mr Simmons told the court: “At that point, I panicked. Out of fear and instinct to survive, I attacked him. My intention, the only intention I remember, is to prevent him from getting the gun. That's the only emotion I remember having.”
He said he could not recall much of the attack and that he remembered stabbing Mr Samuels with an unknown object but little else.
During their deliberations, the jury asked to see again a section of CCTV footage that showed Mr Samuels lifting his shirt moments before the stabbing began.
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