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Bell murder accused: ‘I didn’t want any trouble’

Daemon Bell (File photograph)

A man accused of killing an off-duty corrections officer denied yesterday that he had gone to Shelly Bay Field with a gardening hoe out of anger.

Ajamu Hollis told the Supreme Court that he had fled the field on the afternoon of February 2, 2022, because he had been attacked, and returned because he believed that he had left a box with money in it there.

Under cross-examination by Alan Richards, for the Crown, Mr Hollis denied that he had left specifically to get a weapon.

“I didn’t look for it. It was sitting right there,” he said. “I was gardening that day so it was just right there.

“I knew they had weapons. I was going back to get my box. I didn’t want any trouble.”

Mr Hollis has denied murdering Daemon Bell, 49, in an altercation at Shelly Bay Park in Hamilton Parish.

Prosecutors said that Mr Bell was struck in the face with a gardening hoe after he was caught in the middle of an argument between Mr Hollis and the victim’s brother-in-law, Dion Ball Jr.

Speaking in his defence last week, Mr Hollis told the court that he had gone to Shelly Bay Field in the afternoon of the altercation and had been discussing sports with Mr Ball when, he claimed, Mr Ball became enraged.

He told the court that he had thrown several items that had been in his bike seat and that Mr Bell had then approached him with a bat in his right hand and punched him with his left hand.

Mr Hollis said he fled the area on his bike after being struck a second time and went home to watch YouTube videos and smoke, but realised that he had left a box at the field that contained $250.

He said he took the garden hoe with him because the people who were there had weapons, and admitted that he struck Mr Bell in the face with the hoe.

Mr Hollis said that he tried to help Mr Bell after the incident, but was chased away.

Under cross-examination, Mr Hollis said he had not thrown the items from his bike seat at Mr Ball or anyone else, but had actually thrown them over Mr Bell’s car.

However, he maintained that he had not thrown the items out of anger.

Mr Hollis said that it takes between 90 seconds and two minutes to ride from the field to his home, and accepted that CCTV footage showed him returning to the field a little more than two minutes after he had left.

Mr Richards said: “I suggest that when you left Shelly Bay, you knew where you were going and what you were going to get. You were mad and you decided you were going to get your hoe and come back and sort those people out.

“That’s why when you left you said you were coming back.”

Mr Hollis, however, said he had not told the people at the park that he was coming back because he had no intention of returning and denied that he had acted out of anger.

He told the court that after the altercation he was “seriously concerned” about Mr Bell’s condition and wanted to assist, but was prevented from doing so by Mr Ball and others.

Mr Richards also questioned why Mr Hollis had continued to flee the area after seeing and hearing a police car approach the scene.

“If you wanted to turn yourself in, if you wanted to look for your box, if you wanted to explain yourself, you could have gone back down there,” Mr Richards suggested.

Mr Hollis accepted that it would have been a reasonable thing to do, but that it was not what he had done.

Mr Richards suggested that Mr Hollis had been the aggressor throughout the incident, interjecting himself into other people’s conversation, throwing tools and eventually leaving to get a weapon so that he could “really hurt somebody”.

“You were not defending yourself,” Mr Richards said. “You were attacking.

“Perhaps after having done so you realised you had gone too far, but you know that you are responsible for killing Mr Bell.”

Mr Hollis replied: “I take responsibility for hitting Mr Bell, yes. Him dying, no. He could have been helped.”

The jury is expected to hear closing statements today and begin deliberation tomorrow.

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