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Weak evidence plaguing murder cases

Police say they have solved 70 percent of the 94 murders that occurred last year. However, they could not say whether cases that were dropped during that period because of insufficient evidence are considered solved.

Police officials released statistics on their murder clearance rate yesterday at their”Meet The Press”briefing at Police Headquarters.

During his address, Superintendent Leon Bethell, the commanding officer of the Central Detective Unit, said investigators obtained”good evidence”in the 66 cases for which they arrested and charged 89 people.

However, Bethell did not comment when the panel of senior police officers was asked whether the double murders of Sylvano Yasmin and Kenrick Dolphe in May 2010 were viewed as solved.

The men were shot in an ambush as they arrived at a condominium in Grand Bahama.

Police charged Don Phillipe, Wilson Toussaint and Knevunn Dean with the crime, however, a judge gave the men bail weeks after their arraignment because of the weak evidence against them.

The Office of the Attorney General apparently agreed with this assessment as it dropped the charges against the men in September.

The main evidence relied on in the case was the dying declaration of Dolphe, who allegedly told an officer that”Knevunn and Kool Aid shoot me.”

Dion Smith, one of the lawyers involved in the case, said prosecutors did the”honorable thing”by withdrawing the case as police investigators failed to establish the identities of those people.

Smith said he was able to show that Dolphe knew several people called Knevunn. He added that a witness to the shooting was unable to give police a useful description of the assailants.

Commissioner of Police Ellison Greenslade said that police do not second-guess decisions made by other agencies after suspects are put before the courts. He suggested that the question be put to the Office of the Attorney General.

However, it was pointed out that the prosecution merely presents evidence that has been gathered by police.

Greenslade was then asked whether the case was solved or would be re-opened. He said that he would”get back”to the reporter on the issue.

Greenslade said he thought that police were doing an excellent job in solving crimes.

By contrast, Director of Public Prosecutions Vinette Graham-Allen told investigators at the Central Detective Unit last month that they needed to improve the quality of cases being sent to court.

Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham had a similar assessment of the police force’s investigative standards while speaking on the talk show”Jeffrey”on STAR 106.5FM weeks ago.

There are many examples of weak evidence in murder cases.

A magistrate ruled last year that police did not present enough evidence to require Cameron Smith to stand trial for the murder of Joseph Wright, the first person murdered in 2010.

One magistrate discharged five murder cases last year after finding there was insufficient evidence for the defendants to stand trial in the Supreme Court.

The same magistrate decided that six murder cases should be tried in the Supreme Court by a judge and jury.

According toGuardianrecords, four defendants charged with murders that occurred last year had their cases dropped.

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