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By: Jenise Ferlance, NEWS SPONSORED BY: Christ Festival ( Tel: ) BASSETERRE, St.

Kitts FOLLOWING a series of powerful persuasive arguments by their counsel, Lennox Gumbs (25) and Randy Taylor (21) this afternoon (Jul. 16) walked out of the Basseterre High Court free men. The two men were found not guilty following no case submissions made by their counsel Dr. Henry Browne and Chesley Hamilton, who were aided by Hesketh Benjamin. They were charged with the execution-style murder of 19-year-old Trevis Henville which occurred on April 17, 2012 at Upper Shaw Avenue. The trial began last Tuesday with Acting Director of Public Prosecutions Rhonda NisbettBrowne as the lead prosecutor. Among the witnesses called to give evidence in the matter were five Police Officers, two of whom identified Gumbs and Taylor in a video footage taken from the office of Dr. Jeffers on the morning of the incident. Although the officers identified two of the three individuals in the video as the accused men, none of them could have stated for certain that the persons, who had what appeared to be firearms in their hands, were actually Gumbs and Taylor. Before the video was entered into evidence, defence counsel had argued intensely against it, stating that there was no foundation laid with regards to how the video came into being and that the officers could not clearly identify the accused men on the video. Despite the strong objection, the tape was allowed into evidence and later shown to the jury.

The prosecution rested its case yesterday morning, at which time defence counsel rose to make their no case submissions. In the submissions, which were argued yesterday afternoon (Jul. 15), Hamilton and Dr. Browne argued at length with regards to the evidence presented in the case, the laws surrounding it with regards to the Evidence Act and the quality of the identification of the accused. They argued that there was only one piece of evidence in the matter and there was nothing to support it, as well as it would have been risky to leave the case in the hands of the jury.

They also argued on the grounds of identification with regards to the video footage that was shown to the 12-member jury. They both argued that the quality of the identification evidence was not such that it properly supported the electronic evidence, which was the video footage. Understanding that the case was based on circumstantial evidence, they argued that what was presented was still insufficient and could not uphold the case. Dr. Browne argued that to put that burden on the jury would be too risky. On the issue of identification, Hamilton argued that one could not be identified by just one body part, as the Police Officers stated that by the thickness of the lips, one of the men in the video appeared to be Taylor. Dr. Browne, on that issue, argued that Gumbs could not be identified at all, because the officers who testified to the person they said appeared to be him was wearing a mask, and none of them could see behind a mask. Hamilton had also argued, once again, that there was no foundation laid as to how the video came into being. Using information from the Evidence Act, he told the Court that no one came to testify as to how the footage got onto the DVR or why it was set up. He stated that there was no evidence of standard procedure or process as to how the recording came into being. Nisbett-Browne, making reference to the Constitution, maintained that the quality of the identification evidence was good and that, although circumstantial, there was enough material for the case to be left in the hands of the jury. She argued that the Police Officers' identification of the accused men were proper. Although a good argument was put forth by Nisbett-Browne, His Lordship Justice Errol Thomas, after some consideration, allowed the argument of the defence counsel and ordered the jury to declare the men not guilty. Speaking exclusively with SKNVibes, Dr. Browne said that the video footage was the only evidence the prosecution had and it was admitted, which left the defence having to resort to other grounds on having the case thrown out because even that one piece of evidence was insufficient. "The video was the only evidence they had on which the case was erected. If that was deemed inadmissible, then the entire case would fall. If it were admitted, as it was, then one had to have other grounds upon which the case would be thrown out. So I resorted to other grounds, on what I called the identification evidence test, and the prosecution failed to lead evidence to make it stand as required."

Dr. Browne told this publication that his no case submission was based on the fact that it would have been too risky to have the jury render a verdict on a case with insufficient evidence. "There was no evidence sufficient in itself to go to the jury, and that should not be risked because the evidence did not point positively to the identification of any of the accused. That was the basis of my argument." SKNVibes also spoke with Hamilton, who said that the judge "had about nine different points and reasons why he made the decision to withdraw the case from the jury and give a directive verdict of not guilty". He said that although Justice Thomas had allowed the video to be entered into evidence, he had other problems in terms of "the quality of the identification in light of a case; in that the Appeal Court had decided [upon]...he had to, when he looked at the Appeal Court case, withdraw the case from the jury". When asked about the third individual who was identified in the video footage, Hamilton simply stated that that was not a concern for him. Hamilton said that there were two men in the prison dock and nothing to link them to the crime, because the quality of the evidence was low. "From an evidentiary point, there were two people in the box and what does that weigh when there is nothing further? The quality of the evidence of identifying someone by their lips and you cannot identify anything further, and the other point where there was a person fully masked, what identification can be brought from a person fully masked?" "I think the DPP conceded that point and, therefore, once she conceded that point it was left to the quality of the evidence for Randy Taylor. And the judge felt that the quality did not reach the standard that it should go to the jury," Hamilton said. Gumbs and Taylor were taken back to Her Majesty's Prison and would be released as soon as possible.