Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 31st 2015 Contents A10
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Tuesday, March 31, 2015
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4.7672 5.0181 5.2941
8.8335 9.2984 9.8006
6.4307 6.7692 7.1415
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* 2.5600 ****** 3.2610
for MARCH 26TH, 2015
After a three-week trial which gripped the atten-
tion of the media and attracted widespread attention
among the Turks and Caicos islands population,
Cortez Simmons, the son and employee of Carl
Simmons, a well known and prominent and respect-
ed Turks and Caicos Islands businessman, has been
sentenced to life imprisonment.
Cortez Simmons was sentenced by Chief Justice
Margaret Ramsey-Hale after being found guilty by
a majority verdict of 11-1 of the murder of 25-year-
old Kaziah Burke on April 13, 2013 at Uncle Doe s
Bar at Airport Road Providenciales.
The jury deliberated for six hours until it became
apparent that they could not arrive at a unanimous
Simmons had only four years prior been acquitted
after a jury trial in 2009 of the murder of one Shamade
Ingham, the first cousin of Burke who had been
gunned down in front of the yard of Simmons s
home. The DPP s office retained T&T attorney Evans
Welch as a special prosecutor to lead the prosecution
team in the trial.
Simmons was defended by well-known English
criminal lawyers Roy Ledgister and Laurie Anne-
Power of the UK based Bedford Row Law Chambers
The court heard that while playing a game of domi-
noes at the bar around 8.30 pm a gunman walked
into the bar and in the presence of several patrons
opened fire on Burke.
As Burke retreated out of the bar on his hands and
knees, the gunman followed him and continued
shooting him along the way until he eventually fell
in the courtyard of the bar where the shooter stood
over him, fired three more shots into his body and
then ran from the scene.
The autopsy revealed that Burke died from eight
gunshot wounds from a 40-calibre weapon, eight
exit wounds were also found on his body as they all
completely penetrated his body, doing damage to
several of his organs and arteries in the process.
Several spent shells were found by crime scene
officers scattered on the floor of the bar and in neigh-
bouring buildings and the court yard.
The prosecution based its case entirely on circum-
stantial evidence as there were no witnesses willing
to come foward and identify the gunman despite the
presence of several people who were seen fleeing
from the bar during the shooting.
The star witness for the prosecution was Haitian
national Boker Odema. The prosecution led evidence
of CCTV footage of an incident three weeks before
Burke s murder in which Odema was identified as
one of the gunmen seen in the footage engaging in
a gun battle at the Digicel Cinema Complex on Lee-
ward Highway with three other men.
United States ballistic expert Allen Greenspan tes-
tified that the gun used by Odema at the Digicel cin-
ema incident was the same gun which was used to
kill Burke as the shell casings found on both scenes
bore the markings of one and the same gun.
Although the gun was never recovered, Odema
testified that he had got the gun he used during the
Digicel gun battle, from Cortez Simmons by snatching
T&T lawyer secures murder
conviction for Turks and Caicos govt
it out of Simmons s hand. Odema further testified
that after he fired Simmons s gun at the men, Sim-
mons demanded the return of his gun and he (Odema)
complied and returned the gun to Simmons.
The prosecution argued that this evidence placed
the gun that killed Burke in the hand of Simmons
and that Odema was a credible witness whose evi-
dence rang true. The defence submitted he was a
The prosecution also presented CCTV footage evi-
dence showing a vehicle belonging to Simmons being
among the first to be seen leaving the scene of Burke s
murder. There was also evidence of a relationship of
bad blood which existed between Simmons and Burke.
A serious bone of contention during the trial was
the weight to be attached to the finding of a single
particle of gunshot residue on the driver s door handle
of Simmons vehicle when it was seized after 1 pm,
the day after the shooting.
The issue gives rise to a clash of opinions between
gunshot residue experts Angela Sure of England who
was called as a defence witness and prosecution
expert witness Michael Martinez of the United States,
both of whom testified in the trial via the use of
Sure contended that as no gunshot residue was
found inside the car or on the clothing or person of
Simmons, that the single particle could have been
deposited on the handle by some form of accidental
contamination by the police or from an environmental
Martinez contended that notwithstanding the
absence of any residue anywhere else, it was a distinct
scientific possibility given the circumstances of the
case that the source of the single particle was the
hand of the shooter who might have been getting
into his vehicle to drive away from the scene of the
shooting when the particle was transferred from his
trigger hand to the handle of the vehicle.
By their verdict of guilty the jury strongly favoured
the prosecution s arguments as advanced by lead by
Retired T&T attorney
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