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Witness tells court that accused killer confessed to murder

Supreme Court (File photograph)

An accused killer confessed to a murder months after the fatal shooting, the Supreme Court heard.

A witness, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, told the court that Taaj Muhammad had told her that he had shot Ronniko Burchall, who she knew as “Warrior”, and left her in fear for her life.

The witness said: “He told me right before Cup Match that he shot Warrior and I would be next.”

The court heard that the witness had known Mr Muhammad since they were both students and saw each other regularly – although she said she did not see him the week before the December 29, 2018 shooting.

The witness said that weeks after the murder of Mr Burchall, they began to date.

Over the course of the relationship, she said that Mr Muhammad told her that he had shot a man in the head.

She said he also told her that he had swum from St David’s to St George’s after the shooting and dropped his gun in the ocean in the process.

However, she said she did not tell police about the comments until after a physical altercation between herself and the defendant in July 2020.

Asked why she had decided to go to police, she said: “To protect myself. To save my life from Taaj.”

The witness also said she was able to identify Mr Muhammad as the gunman in CCTV footage from the St David’s County Cricket Club parking lot, based on the way he moved.

Under cross examination by Charles Richardson, counsel for Mr Muhammad, she said she had not seen the defendant run before, but still knew it was him in the recording.

She said his stride was “very distinctive” and it appeared the gunman had “skipped”.

The witness also said she was able to spot the defendant on CCTV footage taken inside the club hours before the shooting.

While Mr Richardson suggested that the video footage was too poor to properly identify who the man in the footage was, the witness maintained it was Mr Muhammad.

She said: “He came close enough to the camera that I could identify him.”

While the jury was shown video footage of the witness identifying the witness as the gunman, the court heard that the witness was not recorded when she identified the defendant in the footage from inside the club.

Acting Sergeant Seymour Foote told the court there was no requirement to record the CCTV identification process.

He told the court that he had been asked by Detective Constable Annika Donowa to show the witness video footage from the cricket club and was provided a DVD with two hours of footage.

Mr Foote added that he had been requested to show the witness a specific three minutes of the footage.

He said: “This is how it’s done. The officer watches the video and makes a request as to what the sergeant would show the witness.”

Mr Muhammad, 26, from St George’s, has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Mr Burchall and a charge that he used a firearm to carry out the offence.

The court heard earlier that Mr Burchall, 30, was shot in the head at point-blank range as he left a Christmas party at St David’s County Cricket Club just after 1.30am on December 29.

He died in hospital the next day.

The court previously heard evidence from Ms Donowa that she had identified the defendant in CCTV footage inside the club about two hours before the murder.

Ms Donowa said Mr Muhammad appeared to arrive at the club at 11.23pm on December 28 and left at about 11.44pm – three minutes after the victim arrived at the club.

The trial, before Acting Puisne Judge Juan Wolffe, continues.

It is The Royal Gazette’s policy not to allow comments on stories regarding criminal court cases. This is to prevent any statements being published that may jeopardise the outcome of that case.