KILLER FACES DEATH
By Shanique Richards
St. Kitts Reporter
After hearing the testimony of all thirty witnesses, Romeo Cannonier was found guilty of murder on Wednesday October 24, 2007 upon the jury’s return after three hours of deliberation. The verdict was not unanimous with the jury divided eleven to one.
Following the guilty verdict the prosecution requested that the sentencing be set for November 12 and that the death penalty be considered based on the circumstances of the matter. Cannonier left the courtroom very upset and spoke to media personnel saying: “They set me up and I will be appealing this case,” he said.
Cannonier was charged with the murder of 32-year-old police constable #454 Delvin Nisbett, committed on July 25, 2004. According to the particulars of the case, Cannonier met the officer while he was walking along the road in Dieppe Bay and shot and killed him.
In the closing arguments the prosecution reiterated the testimonies of some of its key witnesses. Makenia Lawrence, ex-girlfriend of Cannonier and Gavin ‘Magilla’ Gilbert, now deceased but a former friend of the accused, gave confessionary evidence. Lawrence stated that the accused told her that he had killed a policeman because he “roughed him up in prison” and that he then hid the gun in some grass.
Gilbert, whose testimony was read in court, stated that the accused met him in jail and gave him a map showing the location of the gun as well as other instructions as to whom he must take the gun to. It was also stated that the accused told Cannonier that he hated all policemen.
The prosecution also reintroduced the testimony of Lionel Warner referred to as the ‘messenger of death’. Warner gave testimony that he too met the accused in prison and was asked to deliver two messages. The first was to tell ‘Hot Boy’ to get rid of a girl and the second to tell ‘Tulu’ to get rid of ‘Magilla’. Warner stated that when he was released in Dec 2004, he delivered these messages.
The Prosecution also took note of its scientific evidence which was supported by the testimony of DNA forensic examiner Rhonda Craig and Serologists Caroline Zerbos of the FBI Lab in Washington and Forensic Pathologist Dr. Stephen Jones. It was concluded from DNA testing, Nisbett’s DNA was found on a EC five dollar bill that was taken from Cannonier.
“Although there is no direct evidence in this matter, all facts lead irresistibly to Cannonier. He said he hated policemen and will shoot all of them because he was roughed up in prison. The law does not give justification for him to take this man’s life. We have heard testimonies which consist of confessionary and scientific evidence. Cannonier was in the area which the incident took place as he visited the crime scene twice, which gives him the opportunity and access to kill Nisbett. While he was in prison he was even trying to recruit false witnesses as he asked Gilbert to testify for him.
“Makenia was the main frame of this case because everything she said was supported by the testimony of the other witnesses. Makenia gave evidence that the gun was in the grass and the police man had money on him. Only the person who killed and robbed the police could know what could have known this. The number of gun shot wounds shows deliberation and the area which it happened shows ambush. This was planned!
The accused thought the gun was the only link between him and the deceased so that is qwhy he wanted to get rid of it. He also knew Makenia and Gavin were the only two people he had confessed to and he also had a solution for them,” said Cheltenham.
The defense lawyer, Hesketh Benjamin, while doing his summation, stated that the Prosecution did not prove its case beyond reasonable doubt and any doubt should go in favor of the accused.
It was stated that the police while taking the money from Cannonier did not document any blood being on the bills and it was suggested that the police themselves tampered with the evidence as they had all the resources to do so including a blood sample taken from the deceased. It was also noted that there was no proof that the five dollar bill sent for testing is the same bill taken from Cannonier. Benjamin continued his argument as he stated that if the accused is a suspect for being in the area then everyone in Parsons Village should be a suspect as well. He continued to argue that although Gilbert gave his testimony, the defense was not able to cross examine him which should leave doubt because after everything he said he did not report any of it to the police.
“They cannot physically attach Cannonier to the murder because no one can say that they saw him. Circumstantial evidence has its defects one of which is the ability to be fabricated in order to cast suspicion on another and members of the jury you must guard yourselves against it. The police are pressing this case and they have all the materials to get the end product which they seek. The exhibits were not sent to Washington until after six weeks of receiving them which leaves doubt. The police also made Gilbert take an oath because they wanted to ensure that his testimony remains valid if anything was to go wrong. This was done because they already knew what they were cooking up and where is Gavin now to be examined or confronted by Cannonier. As for the evidence of Warner, he had to be called to give evidence twice times until a warrant had to be sent so I wouldn’t even bother with that.
“Also, DNA was found on one of the samples which did not match either the accused or the deceased which leaves the question as to who that DNA belonged to. So that is just left hanging? Why the police not trying to investigate that? Members of the jury, I put to you that there is considerable doubt and a verdict of ‘Not Guilty’ should be returned.
After all the summation the jury returned with the verdict, ‘Guilty’.