Wed | Aug 23, 2017

Annie Paul | The murder of Khajeel Mais

Published:Wednesday | October 26, 2016 | 10:00 AM
Annie Paul
Reporter Dara Smith blocks the path of Patrick Powell to get first bite at a response as he left the Home Circuit Court in downtown Kingston a free man on Monday. His only reaction to his acquittal was, "I feel good. God is with me."
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Over the past two weeks, I noticed that a particular post on my blog Active Voice from five years ago was getting increased traffic. It was a piece titled 'The only Jamaican paper with balls - The Sunday Herald' and I couldn't understand what had suddenly aroused so much interest in the now-defunct newspaper. When the traffic not only persisted but started to increase, I decided to reread the post to find out what was driving this interest, only to find out that the article was about the case of the X6 killer, and the suspected killer Patrick Powell, now in the news again after having been freed of murder charges on October 24.

Powell stood accused of shooting and killing 17-year-old Khajeel Mais on July 1, 2011, in what appeared to be a case of road rage, after the taxi Mais was riding in accidentally bumped into Powell's BMW X6. That post, written in November 6, 2011, made the point that the suspect in the case needed to be named instead of being referred to constantly as the 'X6 killer'.

As with the Steven Causwell case I recently wrote about, the case of the X6 killer has been full of bizarre twists and turns, not least of which was the final outcome of the charges against Patrick Powell being dropped because a witness for the prosecution suddenly turned 'hostile', now claiming, contrary to the report he made in 2011, that he couldn't identify the driver of the X6 as the killer.

Yet, as Dennis Brooks has pointed out, this witness said in a Jamaica Observer article shortly after the accident in July 2011, albeit with a good deal of nervousness and fear, that "after running into the back of the sport utility vehicle, he stopped and heard Mais, who was in the back seat, saying, 'Him coming wid a gun.'"

The taxi operator said he tried leaving the scene when the driver of the BMW fired on his vehicle, hitting Mais in the head. He said the man fired several more rounds, then gave chase in his luxury vehicle. The taxi operator said he drove to the nearby Constant Spring Police Station.

"He wanted to take our lives," said the taxi operator, speaking of the shooter. "He wanted to kill us. A jus' me life mi see in front a mi."

In July 2011, the police found enough evidence to charge Patrick Powell, who was reported as having 'fled the island', with the murder of Khajeel Mais, even going to the extent of belatedly arresting his son, Jahnai Powell, for allegedly crippling a man in 2009. The Observer reported that Jahnai Powell's attorney, Peter Champagnie, "complained that Powell was only arrested to lure his father back to the island from the United States where he had fled, following the shooting death of 17-year-old Kingston College student Khajeel Mais on July 1".

In the wake of accusations of corruption on their part, the police have issued a statement detailing their actions in the case:

"Mr Powell was picked up at the Norman Manley International Airport on July 11, 2011, following his return from overseas. He was put in police custody and questioned that same day about the incident and the whereabouts of his firearm. On the instructions of his attorney, he refused to answer and was subsequently served with a notice under Section 39(4) of the Firearms Act to hand over his firearm. He indicated that on the instructions of his lawyer, he would not hand it over.

"The firearm in question, which is suspected to be the murder weapon, was never handed over to the police. This hindered investigators from securing critical forensic evidence and conducting the necessary analysis and comparison of material found at the crime scene and bullet fragments retrieved from the body of the Khajeel."

To complicate matters further, in November 2011, the Observer reported that a forensic report had come out stating that gunshot residue was found on 17-year-old murder victim Khajeel Mais' right hand. This may explain why Powell's attorneys made Mais' character the subject of testimony in court last week.

I draw no conclusions from any of this, as the truth is yet to emerge about what actually happened to Khajeel Mais on July 1, 2011. The last word shall go to Duane Allen, who quipped about the outcome of the non-trial on Facebook:

"The deceased's deplorable record of deportment acted as a magnet for the bullet that killed him. This magnetism was so strong that it rendered the meeting of the bullet and his body inevitable and totally exonerated the defendant. There was, therefore, no actus reus, leading inexorably to the defendant's right to an acquittal and the conclusion that the deceased's demise was self-inflicted."

• Annie Paul is a writer and critic based at the University of the West Indies and author of the blog, Active Voice (anniepaul.net). Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com or tweet @anniepaul.