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Woodley found guilty of murder a second time

Woodley found guilty of murder a second time

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For the second time in almost seven years, Webster Woodley has been found guilty of the murder of taxi operator Peter “Kazaman” Joseph.

Woodley was convicted by a 12-member jury of his peers, on Monday, March 2, at the High Court’s Criminal Assizes.{{more}}

He will be sentenced on March 23, 2015.

The crux of the prosecution’s case hinged on the evidence of star witnesses, Melissa Lee and Rinella Clarke — both of whom are ex-girlfriends of Woodley.

However, neither woman was present in court to testify in the matter therefore it was the transcripts of their testimonies at the first trial in 2008, that were read to the jury.

Joseph, the victim of a robbery, was shot and killed on November 29, 2004, at Cane Hall.

Woodley and then accused, Grenadian Sheldon Bain were convicted and sentenced to 25 years in jail on February 26, 2010, but their conviction was quashed by the Court of Appeal on November 23, 2011, after the court upheld submissions by their then attorney, Kay Bacchus-Browne, that the evidence led in the case was prejudicial.

A retrial was ordered.

During the recent trial, legal arguments were put forward by Woodley’s counsel, Jomo Thomas in relation to the admission of transcripts into trial, since main prosecution witnesses, Clarke and Lee were not present in court to testify in the matter.

However, presiding judge Kathy-Ann Latchoo ruled that the transcripts should be admitted into evidence, and that the parts of the transcripts that contained prejudicial evidence that was presented at the first trial, be omitted.

The prosecution withdrew the charge against Bain earlier this year.

However, back in July 2014, in preparation of the trial, the prosecution had made the first ever application under the Special Measures Act to have the overseas witnesses testify in court from an undisclosed location via live video link, but the court rejected it.

The Special Measures Act, which was passed in Parliament on December 2, 2013, provides for an application to be made to the court for a witness anonymity order and provides for special measures to be given in appropriate cases. These special measures include the giving of evidence by live link, video recorded evidence, the taking of evidence from outside of St Vincent and the Grenadines and prohibiting the defendant in certain cases from personally cross-examining a particular witness.

At the first trial, the two overseas prosecution witnesses were brought back to St Vincent to testify in the matter.

Lee had told the court that that on the night of the murder, Woodley told her that he and Michael ‘Syndicate’ Samuel, a former accused, were going on “a scene.”

When the prosecution asked what she meant by “going on a scene,” Lee said Woodley told her that he had rent to pay and that the babies needed milk and pampers. The witness stated that Bain and his girlfriend, Samuel and Selwyn ‘Thick Skin’ Moses (deceased) all left with Woodley that night. Lee said that she and Clarke went to the back porch and saw Samuel’s silver two-door car leave.

Lee had further testified that Woodley returned home about 2 a.m. the next morning and told her that they didn’t get any money because the man was broke and that they had to shoot him because he was giving them “too much of chats.”

“He (Woodley) said he shoot up the car first with the man inside but realised he didn’t die, so he pulled him out of the car and shot him several times,” Lee had testified.

Lee also told the court that later that morning, Woodley told her to turn on the radio to hear the news and that was when she heard that a taxi driver was murdered at Cane Hall. She added that when Bain and Woodley heard the news they began laughing.

Clarke had also testified that Woodley, Bain and others left their Queen’s Drive home on the night of November 29, 2004, to look for money.

She had also stated that the group returned home in the early hours of November 30, at which time, Woodley spoke of killing Joseph.

Defence attorney Jomo Thomas in an interview with SEARCHLIGHT said he had argued that the prosecution’s evidence was confusing, inconsistent and contradictory.

“The evidence came from women who felt as though they were scorned by this man (Woodley). We feel that the evidence was concocted and was a way of getting back at him,” Thomas argued.

He further stated that the forensic evidence given by Dr Ronald Child did not corroborate the evidence of crown witness, Lee.

Thomas noted that Lee stated that Woodley told her that he shot at the man and after realising he was not killed, pulled him out of the car and shot him several more times.

A post mortem revealed that Joseph died from eight gunshot wounds, including wounds that destroyed his heart, liver and lungs.

“The forensic evidence said the shooter could not have been more than three to four feet away from the victim. What we tried to establish to the jury is if the shooter thought the man was not dead and he pulled him out of the car and shot him, why would he pull him out of the car and then step away from him and shoot him…,” he said.

Thomas further stated that according to the evidence of the star witnesses, they had stated that a number of men were living at the house and that they never spoke within earshot of the women (the witnesses).

“They said the men either went downstairs or went outside. We argued that if that’s the case, the men who did not speak in front of a woman, came back from a crime and literally discussed it in from of them. To me, that was quite contradictory, but the jurors didn’t buy it,” Thomas said.

Director of Public Prosecution, Colin Williams led the case for the crown. He appeared with Assistant Director of Public Prosecution, Colin John and crown counsel Tammika DaSilva.

Woodley and Bain still have other separate murder trials that they have to answer to, including the killing of Woodley’s mother and stepfather in December 2004, for which Bain has been charged. Woodley has also been charged in connection with the murder of Livingston Primus of Sion Hill in August 2004.(KW)

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