Trial of ex-cop | 'They're saying that to trap me'
The former police constable who a witness testified left the island days after he was implicated in the 2007 shooting death of an unarmed teenage boy has said that he was visiting his ailing grandmother in the United States (US).
Mark Russell, who is on trial for killing 18-year-old Ravin Thompson, denied any involvement in the incident and insisted that members of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) who testified against him are lying.
Prosecutor Jeremy Taylor and Russell's attorney, Michael Jordon, both closed their cases yesterday and are expected to make their closing arguments to the seven-member jury today.
Three JDF soldiers were among the 13 witnesses called by Taylor. The three gave evidence that they saw Russell place a police-issued M16 rifle in Thompson's hands and took it back before the teen was shot several times by another constable, identified as Morris Lee, along Darling Street, in downtown Kingston.
Taylor also led evidence that Russell was arrested by US Marshals in the state of New York, almost five years after the incident, and escorted back to Jamaica by members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force in June 2012.
However, Russell, in his unsworn statement that lasted almost one hour, insisted that the soldiers had "twisted things" in their accounts of the incident and said that he only travelled to the US because his visa was to expire in three months and he wanted to see his ailing grandmother.
"I went to visit her and sometime later she had a stroke," he told the seven-member jury.
The former constable said that he knew "everybody is looking for a scapegoat" but insisted that he had nothing to do with Thompson's death and blasted the three soldiers, whose names were not released.
"I would never do something like that [place the M16 on the teen]. They are saying that to trap me," Russell insisted.
"They made up that story because they wanted to add something to make their story sound better," he added.