911 calls played in Worrell trial
The tempestuous relationship between Kamal Worrell and Chavelle Dillon-Burgess was exposed in a series of 911 calls they each made after they had broken up.
Recordings of more than 20 calls between 2017 and 2019 were played to the jury at Mr Worrell’s trial in Supreme Court yesterday.
Mr Worrell has denied murdering Ms Dillon-Burgess, the mother of his child, on an unknown date between April 10 and June 11, 2020.
He has also denied a charge of wounding Ms Dillon-Burgess, a charge of common assault related to an incident on June 1, 2019, and six counts of common assault related to an incident on November 14, 2018.
In relation to the common-assault charges, the court heard recordings of two calls made from Mr Worrell’s mobile phone on that date in question — November 14, 2018.
In the first call, which lasted about 15 seconds, no one replied when the police dispatcher asked which emergency service the caller required.
But background noises of what sounded like someone choking and gasping for breath could be heard, before the line went dead.
In a second call only two minutes later, Mr Worrell is heard telling the dispatcher: “I have got someone in my house who needs to get out. Someone needs to come quick.
“I can’t stay on the phone. I’m trying to get the baby.”
Shouting could be heard in the background and the call finally ended as police arrived at Mr Worrell’s home on Hill View Road in Warwick.
The court heard a series of 911 calls from Ms Dillon-Burgess — who has not been seen since she was reported missing on April 30, 2020 — made between March and August 2019.
In one call, she complained that Mr Worrell had taken the passport and birth certificate of their infant son.
Ms Dillon-Burgess also made repeated calls claiming that Mr Worrell was denying her custody of her son, even though a court had ordered that she should have care for him during the week.
In one call she said that she had not seen her child in a month and that “my child is in danger”.
Mr Worrell made several 911 calls claiming that Ms Dillon-Burgess was trespassing on his property.
In one conversation with a dispatcher in May, 2019, Mr Worrell said: “I am calling about an individual who is refusing to leave — Chavelle Dillon.”
When the dispatcher asked what Ms Dillon-Burgess was to him, Mr Worrell replied: “Nothing.”
In another call, Mr Worrell said: “Chavelle Dillon is at my house once again and she won’t leave, so I’m calling the police so that they can escort her quietly and peacefully.
“I am about to leave the house. It’s my place but I don’t want to stay here. I don’t want to stay here with her because I don’t want things to escalate.”
In some of the calls, sounds of commotion could be heard in the background.
During the afternoon session, Detective Inspector Jason Smith, the senior investigating officer in the case, gave evidence.
Mr Smith said that when Ms Dillon-Burgess was reported missing at the end of April, the incident was initially handled by the Bermuda Police Service’s Vulnerable Persons Unit.
But within days, the case was reclassified as a potential “suspicious death” and the Serious Crimes Unit took over.
Mr Smith told the jury that there were a number of factors that caused “alarm bells to start ringing”.
He said that there had been no reported sightings of Ms Dillon-Burgess, despite a media blitz by police and a $50,000 reward for information.
Also of concern was that the missing woman had failed to contact family or friends since her disappearance and had made no effort to contact her son.
Bank records showed that the last withdrawal from her HSBC account was from an ATM on April 12. CCTV footage showed the transaction was made by Mr Worrell.
Quizzed by Cindy Clarke, the Director of Public Prosecution, Mr Smith said that in the 3½ years since her disappearance, investigators had had no credible reports, intelligence or evidence that Ms Dillon-Burgess was alive.
Under cross-examination from Mr Worrell, Mr Smith said that the defendant became “a person of interest” in the investigation because of his history of domestic violence with Ms Dillon-Burgess. Mr Worrell was also reportedly the last person to see her.
Asked about a police search of his Warwick home, Mr Smith said that forensics officers had focused on the fireplace of the property after hearing reports of smoke and a strange smell coming from the chimney.
Mr Smith confirmed that the search yielded no evidence.
When asked by Mr Worrell if detectives had researched how a body could be disposed of by fire, Mr Smith said that they had not, but added that other methods of disposal, such as acid, had been looked into.
Mr Worrell questioned why police had not followed up on one lead from a witness who made reference to a possible sighting of Ms Dillon-Burgess several weeks after she had been reported missing.
Mr Smith replied that the lead was too vague.
Mr Worrell also asked why police had not examined the phone of Kimberley Burgess, the estranged husband of the missing woman.
Mr Smith replied that Ms Burgess was not a suspect and had co-operated with police.
Mr Worrell then read out the transcript of an interview Mr Burgess gave to police in which he abruptly ended proceedings and said: “I haven’t been in contact with her — anything else you need you can speak to my lawyer.”
The trial, before Puisne Judge Juan Wolffe, continues.
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