Johnson is on trial for the murder of Christopher Jorgenson, 18, in 2012 on the Jane Usher basketball court
BELIZE CITY, Wed. Dec. 6. 2017–The trial of Keyron Johnson, 27, accused of the April 2012 murder of Christopher Jorgenson, 18, concluded in the Supreme Court today after Johnson’s attorney, Bryan Neal, and Crown Counsel Janelle Tillett made closing submissions before Justice Adolph Lucas, who heard the case, sitting without a jury.
Justice Lucas, after thanking both counsels, informed them that he would issue his ruling on the case on December 18.
Jorgenson was shot in the midsection on Sunday, April 15, when he was at a basketball court on Curl Thompson Street, in the Jane Usher Boulevard area. Two men approached him and one of the men facilitated the other with a handgun, which he used to shoot Jorgenson.
Jorgenson was rushed to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital, but died three days later, on April 18.
Johnson, who was initially charged with attempted murder, then had his charge upgraded to murder.
The trial began on Tuesday, November 28, and the Crown called a total of 5 witnesses, while the defense called two witnesses, one of whom was an alibi witness, Jamil Rowland, Johnson’s girlfriend at the time.
Johnson gave a dock statement telling the court that he was at his girlfriend’s house when the shooting occurred.
In his submission, Neal, the defense counsel, told the court that the case is one of mistaken identity.
“The evidence of identification comes from one witness…it is uncorroborated evidence of a witness who was inconsistent in and of itself,” Neal submitted.
Neal pointed out to Justice Lucas that the Crown’s key eyewitness, Shenik Jorgenson, a sister of the deceased, gave testimony that conflicted with the account provided by the witness called by the defense, the Scenes of Crime technician, Angela Wiltshire.
“There is enough evidence before the court for the court to decide,” Neal argued.
“The defense takes serious issue where the prosecutor has failed to discharge the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt that Your Lordship can be sure that it was this accused who was the shooter,” Neal told the court.
The Crown is relying on the testimony of Jorgenson, who testified that from her verandah she saw the accused man following her brother on the basketball court.
“Jorgenson mistakenly identified the accused from her verandah. She testified that she heard some loud bangs which sounded like gunshots. She said she was frightened. She ran out on her verandah. These are the circumstances under which she made the identification,” Neal said.
Neal went on to contrast the testimony of Jorgenson with that of Wiltshire, who he said had testified that the basketball court was very dark. She had to take her photographs with the aid of a flashlight. Not even the flash from the camera was enough. Visibility was poor, Wiltshire testified.
“It was virtually impossible for the witness to see what she said she had seen,” Neal continued. “She said she saw the accused for about 40 seconds. This amounts to a fleeting glance. From a side angle with a peaked cap on his head, in very poor lighting condition, is no identification at all and ought to be disregarded all together,” said Neal.
Neal argued that Jorgenson never placed the accused outside the 50 feet of darkness that Wiltshire had described in her testimony.
Neal urged Justice Lucas to give Johnson the benefit of the doubt due to the inconsistencies he pointed out in the evidence of the Crown’s key eyewitness.
Crown Counsel Tillett did not share Neal’s views on the evidence that she led. In her submission, Tillett sought to convince Justice Lucas that it was the accused who murdered Jorgenson. Tillett pointed out what she considered to be the contradiction in the defense witness Wiltshire’s testimony regarding the lighting condition at the basketball court.
“Under cross-examination, Wiltshire admitted that lights were coming from a neighbor’s house,” Tillett submitted.
“Jorgenson said when she saw the accused he was about 20 feet away from her. Jorgenson’s evidence was that she saw her brother run toward the right direction and fell by the zinc house. She said she saw the accused turn in a direction towards her and at that time, while she still remained on her verandah, she saw his face for about 1 minute, because he was jogging in a slow motion. The lighting condition was good and nothing was blocking her from seeing him,” Tillett told the court.
“If the lighting condition was good enough for her to see her brother, it was also good enough for her to see the accused,” Tillett reasoned. “Jorgenson said she knew the accused for one year, prior to the night in question. She knew him because he socialized in the area,” she said.
“In the accused’s statement from the dock, at no time did he dispute Ms. Jorgenson’s evidence of knowing him, and at no time did my learned friend suggest to Ms. Jorgenson that she did not know the accused,” Tillett argued.
Tillett told the court that the alibi witness that the defense brought made two important admissions under cross-examination. One is that the accused had his hair “plat”, and two, she knew that the accused frequented the area on Curl Thompson Street.
“Under cross-examination, my learned friend hammered Ms. Jorgenson as it relates to distance, but she admitted that she is not good with distances and measurements. Ms. Jorgenson testified that she saw the accused running behind her brother, Christopher Jorgenson, and that he was pointing his hand toward her brother. Sparks came from his right hand and she heard more loud bangs. The evidence of Ms. Jorgenson is enough to find the accused guilty of the murder of Christopher Jorgenson,” Tillett submitted with finality.
Justice Lucas, when he delivers his verdict, will have to choose to either believe the Crown’s eyewitness, or find that the defense witnesses cast enough doubt on the account of the eyewitness so as to leave a doubt.
And if there is a doubt, that doubt usually goes to the benefit of the accused.