Today in the Supreme Court of Justice Adolph Lucas, John Chessman, 22, was found not guilty of the double murders of Karen Crawford, 19, and Maurice Cadle, 44.
In May of 2008, Crawford and Cadle were killed in Bermudian Landing in the midst of what was believed by police to have been drug activities.
Nelson Henry was arrested along with Chessman in June of 2008, but was acquitted in 2010 after directives were sent from the Director of Public Prosecutions’ office to withdraw the charges against him due to insufficient evidence.
Chessman had been arrested and charged along with his brother, Robert Gillett, for the brutal 2005 murder of Mara Naomi Garcia, but they were both acquitted of the murder in 2008, just weeks before he was arrested for the double murders.
In Chessman’s trial, a witness testified that at about 7:30 p.m. on May 29, 2008, Crawford and Cadle, who were both residents of Bermudian Landing, were on Crawford’s verandah socializing when a gunman walked around from the back of the house and pointed a gun at them.
The gunman, whose face was not visible by the witness, was looking for Emerson Wade, Crawford’s boyfriend; he was not at home at the time and the gunman fired a shot that hit the house. According to the witness, this is when he left the scene and went looking for help, but moments later, he heard three more shots.
Police allege that after the witness had left the scene, the gunman came back with three accomplices, and one of them shot Cadle in his left temple; Crawford was then shot in the back of her head by one of them.
Although police alleged that this is the sequence of events that occurred, they were unable to prove their theory that there were four men involved in the murders.
Sgt. Nicholas Palomo, who claimed that Chessman gave him an oral confession to the murders, was then called to testify.
In his testimony, he stated that a few days after the murders, police arrested Chessman after they received information that Chessman and others, after getting drunk, were telling the story of how they killed Crawford and Cadle.
Sgt. Palomo alleged that he got Chessman to disclose information about the entire incident; he told him that he, Chessman, along with three other men, went after a “drug dealer”. They couldn’t find who they were looking for, and one of the men shot Cadle.
Chessman allegedly went on to say that Crawford was to lead them to the drugs, but one of the men got “jumpy” and shot her in the back of the head.
Under cross-examination, Chessman’s attorney, Tricia Pitts-Anderson, got Sgt. Palomo to admit that he did not follow procedure and write down the confession in his personal police notebook, or the police station’s diary; he also admitted that he didn’t read back the confession to Chessman, and try to get him to sign it.
What he did, instead, was to make a note that Chessman said all those things in his personal report and then submitted it.
After the Crown, represented by Trienna Young and Stevannie Duncan, ended their case, Chessman gave a statement from the dock, saying that he “never gave a statement,” and that he never “confessed to anything.” He also stated that he was framed for these murders.
The jury of eight women and four men went into deliberations at 12:06 p.m., deliberated for approximately four hours and fourteen minutes, and came back with the two unanimous verdicts at 4:20 p.m.
Chessman, after being remanded for almost four years, was then able to walk out of court a free man.