Ruling: eyewitness evidence at trial “critical”
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Court of Appeal has reaffirmed the murder and attempted murder convictions of Pedro Davis, who was convicted of the October 2016 killing of Renaldo Clarke.
Justices Sir Michael Barnett, Maureen Crane-Scott and Roy Jones presided over the matter.
Davis shot Clarke in the head and fired at Ronald “Super” Dean-Auradin on October 21, 2016.
During the trial in the Supreme Court, Dean-Auradin said he knew Davis and saw the man shoot Clarke before firing at him.
A second witness, Michael Newland, who was in a vehicle with Davis, testified to witnessing the same event — that he saw Davis shoot Clarke in the back of the head.
Davis appealed his conviction on the ground that the judge erred in law and failed to withdraw the case from the jury and acquit him due to the “poor quality and tenuous nature of the evidence of identification”, and that the verdict was unsafe.
But the appellate court said the grounds of poor-quality evidence could not succeed.
In his ruling, Sir Michael said the evidence of the two eyewitnesses was critical.
“There was evidence from two eyewitnesses that it was the appellant who shot the deceased and shot at Super,” the ruling said.
“The challenges to their credibility were matters for the jury.
“The inconsistencies in their evidence, as suggested by the appellant, were matters for the jury properly instructed.
“It was a matter for the jury to decide whether or not they believed the two eyewitnesses or parts of one or the other’s evidence, or even if they believed the two eyewitnesses.
“The fact is that there was evidence for a jury to consider and which, if properly directed, could reach a guilty verdict.”
The ruling said the evidence was a case of recognition, not identification.
On the grounds of the judge not directing the jury to the actual evidence laid at the trial as to lighting conditions and distances, Sir Michael said this was unfortunate.
But he said the direction given to the jury was sufficient to draw their attention as to the need to be careful in assessing the evidence of Newland and Dean-Auradin identifying the appellant as the shooter.
“The evidence given by the witness, once believed, entitled the jury to convict,” read the ruling.
“The directors or lack thereof given by the judge was not a material error.”