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Witness: ‘I tried my best to do everything I could’

Daemon Bell (File photograph)

A witness told a court he tried to help Daemon Bell after he was struck in the face with a garden hoe in an incident near Shelly Bay Field in 2022.

Shaun Hunt said that on February 2 he was with Mr Bell and others at Shelly Bay Field for a BBQ in honour of their mothers, who had both died earlier that year.

He recalled Mr Bell and Dion Ball Jr talking about sport when the defendant Ajamu Hollis, referred to by his nickname as “Pumpkin”, joined the conversation.

“They were arguing,” he said. “Guys were arguing about soccer.”

Mr Hunt said that Mr Hollis left the area but returned a few minutes later, parking his motorcycle and walking towards the group.

“He walked off the hill,” he said. “They had words. That’s when I saw the hoe.

“Mr Bell got out of the car saying: ‘Cool out, cool out, cool out’. That’s when he struck him. Pumpkin hit Daemon with the hoe.”

He told the court that Mr Hollis struck Mr Bell twice in the head with the tool.

“He was holding it like a baseball bat,” Mr Hunt added. “He hit him with the back part, not the blade.

“He went down and I went to him. I tried my best to do anything I could. I tried to save his teeth. He was spitting blood into my face.”

Mr Hunt said he did not pay attention to what happened with Mr Hollis or Mr Ball after the altercation, but he believed Mr Hollis put down the hoe because he saw it on the ground.

Mr Hollis has denied killing Mr Bell, a 49-year-old corrections officer, at Shelly Bay Park in Hamilton Parish on February 2, 2022.

Prosecutors say that Mr Bell was struck in the face with a gardening hoe after he was caught in the middle of an argument between Mr Ball and Mr Hollis.

Mr Bell was taken to King Edward VII Memorial Hospital but subsequently died of his injuries.

Under cross examination by Charles Richardson, counsel for Mr Hollis, Mr Hunt accepted that he had several beers and smoked cannabis before the altercation happened.

He told the court that he did not speak to police about what happened that day, but made a statement at Southside Police Station several days later, on February 7.

“It was too much,” he said. “He saved my life a week before he passed. That’s why it’s so deep in my head right now. A lot of people wouldn’t understand that.”

Mr Richardson suggested that the version of events that Mr Hunt told police in 2022 and what he had told the court were different.

He said Mr Hunt had told officers that Mr Hollis held the weapon in his right hand, while he told the court he held it in his left.

Mr Hunt responded that Mr Hollis held the weapon in his left hand because everyone would have seen it if it was in his right and others would have gotten involved.

Mr Richardson also suggested that he had told police Mr Bell was standing near the front of his car when Mr Hollis returned to the area, not sat in his car as he had told the court.

Mr Hunt, however, said the information he had given in court was correct.

The witness also maintained that Mr Hollis had dealt the victim two blows one after the other, despite Mr Richardson suggesting that it was a single blow.

Mr Hunt added that he did not see Mr Bell hit Mr Hollis or anyone wielding a wooden bat or a knife in the incident.

Earlier in the trial, the jury was shown CCTV footage from a nearby business that showed a man, identified as Mr Hollis, being followed by a man with a wooden bat, identified as Mr Ball.

Mr Ball testified that he had taken the bat from Mr Bell’s car after seeing Mr Hollis strike Mr Ball with the hoe and attempted to prevent him from fleeing the area.

He said Mr Hollis eventually escaped, and he had passed the bat to someone at a nearby business “just to get rid of it”. He also admitted that he did not tell police about the bat until he was confronted with CCTV footage.

The trial 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