The murder trial of Cowin Bennett, 20, accused of executing the reputed boss of the Kraal Road Gang, Raymond “Killa” Gentle, ended in the Supreme Court of Justice Adolph Lucas today.
Justice Lucas has set March 5 as the date he will deliver his ruling, after the almost two-week trial by judge without a jury.
Bennett was represented by Legal Aid attorneys Baja Shoman and Michelle Trapp-Zuniga, while the Crown’s case was presented by Crown Counsels Shanice Lovell and Prosha Staine.
In the late afternoon of January 12, 2011, Raymond “Killa” Gentle was on Kraal Road supervising the construction of a house, a job he was doing for the then Minister of Works, Anthony “Boots” Martinez.
But what Gentle did not know was that two men were at his work site with deadly intentions. One of the two men suddenly materialized and sprayed Gentle with a barrage of .9mm gunfire, killing him instantly.
Gentle’s body, according to the examining doctor, had six bullet wounds which were considered bullet entry wounds.
Police arrested and charged Corwin Bennett for the murder; he was only 17 at the time.
The prosecution called 14 witnesses to testify. A key witness for the prosecution’s case was Elvis Bevans, Gentle’s brother, who witnessed the shooting and pursued the shooter.
According to Bevans, the shooter pointed his gun at him and tried to fire it, but the gun jammed.
In his testimony, Bevans told the court that he and his brother “Killa” were in a yard building a house. Only the frame and the floor of the wooden house were completed. They were on the floor when the gunman attacked.
Although Bevans had attended an identification parade and picked out the accused Bennett, he was unable to identify him in court. When the prosecutor asked him if he saw the man he had identified at the identification parade anywhere in the courtroom, he replied “no.”
Bennett also indicated to the court, while he was on the witness stand, that he was in fear for his life and he did not really want to testify.
Despite Bevan’s reluctance to testify, however, the prosecutor never treated him as a hostile witness; besides, she was able to get the identification parade evidence that Bennett was pinpointed as the shooter admitted as part of the prosecution’s evidence.
But while Bevans had failed to identify Bennett before he left the witness stand as his brother’s shooter, two statements that Bennett gave to police, in which he implicated himself by telling police that he was the shooter who shot and killed Gentle, were admitted into evidence.
In Bennett’s second statement, he told police that he was not the shooter, but that he had accompanied the shooter. He admitted to police that he had participated in the crime, as he had helped to protect the shooter.
In his defense, Bennett made a statement from the prisoner’s dock, telling the court that the only reason he gave the statements to police was because he was threatened by an associate of the George Street Gang, who he claimed, threatened him by telling him that if he did not take responsibility for the crime, he would be killed, so that’s why he did it.