Headline — 08 February 2013 — by Rochelle Gillett
Shaquille Jones, 21, acquitted of double murder

Jones was accused of killing Cameron Blease, 18, and Jermaine Trapp, 29

Shaquille Jones, 21, who was accused of the double murders of Cameron Blease, 18, and Jermaine Trapp, 29, in December of 2008, walked away a free man after Justice Troadio Gonzalez upheld a no-case submission by Jones’ attorney, Arthur Saldivar.

According to police, in the early morning hours of December 26, 2008, Blease and Trapp were socializing at the Princess Hotel and Casino on Newtown Barracks. They both got into a car which was parked on the compound, and while inside, they were ambushed and shot multiple times.

Trapp died on the spot, but according to police, Blease, who died several days later on January 5, 2009, was able to give them a statement in which he told them that Jones was the person who shot them. Police said that that statement was then read back to Blease, after which he signed it with an “X”.

The trial started on January 28, 2013, and the Crown, which was represented by Kayshia Grant and Leroy Banner, called 6 witnesses for their case, including the arresting officer, Sgt. Manuel Espat; the investigative Officer, Sgt. Nicholas Palomo; the Scenes of Crime techincian, Audrey Cleland; Dr. Mario Estradabran; and Sheena Courtney, Blease’s mother.

Espat told the court that he was the officer who recorded the statement from Blease at the hospital, and Palomo corroborated his account of what happened, indicating to the court that he had witnessed the recording of the statement and when Blease signed it.

But when Courtney took the stand, under cross-examination, she told the court that she was there when the police arrived at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital and never saw them interview her son. She further stated that there is no way he could have signed the statement as the officers claimed, because of his injuries.

After the Crown closed their case, Saldivar made a no-case submission in the absence of the jury, basing his arguments on the fact that Blease, knowing how to read, write, and spell his name, did not sign the statement marking an “X” as his signature.

His other argument was that in the statement that he allegedly gave to police, his identification of the shooter was not enough. No foundation was laid that supported his identification, and since the area was poorly lit at the time of the shooting, visibility was not sufficient for him to properly see the shooter.

After hearing arguments from both sides, Justice Gonzalez decided that the evidence provided should not go to the jury. The jurors were then called back into the court, where they were instructed to find Jones not guilty of the crimes.

Jones then exited the courtroom, and after the police ascertained that there were no other charges he was facing, Jones became a free man. At the time of the shooting, Jones was 17, and has been incarcerated since his arrest in January 2009.

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