Tue | Jan 21, 2020

'Unfairly done' - Tesha Miller's mother bemoans conviction, attorney says client targeted

Published:Wednesday | December 4, 2019 | 12:15 AMNickoy Wilson/Gleaner Writer -
Tesha Miller
Tesha Miller

As she sang a hymn about Jesus while slowly making her way down the stairs of the Supreme Court building yesterday, Sharon James said she was “somewhat surprised” when her son, reputed gangster Tesha Miller, was convicted of accessory before and after the fact to the 2008 murder of then chairman of the Jamaica Urban Transit Company, Douglas Chambers.

Miller, who was yesterday convicted by a seven-member jury comprising six women and a man, after more than three hours of deliberation, will face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment when he returns to court for sentencing on January 9, 2020.

Moments before James' exit, she watched as Miller, clad in a white and blue floral shirt, white pants and tan shoes, was escorted by members of the police force back to the court’s holding area on the ground floor.

Speaking to The Gleaner at the downtown Kingston-based Home Circuit Court moments after the verdict was handed down, James described the prosecution of her son as “unfairly done”.

“That’s one and that’s it, ... but I bless God because I have him,” she said.

She added, "It can't be good. It can't be. Because knowing that, well, life is like this so, it can't be good."

James declined to respond to questions about whether her son was being targeted by law enforcement. However, Bert Samuels, the attorney representing Miller, did not mince words.

“Every time Mr Miller is on bail, he has to virtually go into hiding because it’s either one thing or the other. The last time I defended him, it was for an offence of $100. That’s less than any traffic fine. So he has been hounded, and he has had to be hiding, not because he is guilty, but when he shows himself up, there are charges laid on him,” the attorney asserted.

Samuels also indicated that they have already identified several grounds on which to mount an appeal.

“Whilst the course of this matter was going on, we have 18 grounds of appeal that we are confident will be very useful in the Court of Appeal. But I would like to point to the strongest grounds I think we have. That ... relates to the jury itself, because during the jury selection, I sought to make my third of four challenges.

“I know I am entitled to by law and I was prevented from doing that from the learned trial judge, who said that I only had two pre-emptive challenges. The law is clear on that matter that a person who is charged with accessory before the fact is sentenced the same way as the principal, and the law is clear that people who are charged for murder, they have four challenges,” he said.

Meanwhile, acting Deputy Commissioner of Police Fitz Bailey described the conviction as vindication of the justice system.

“This is a representation of the hard work of the police and that the justice system is still working … . Nobody is above the law and that was proven today,” he said.

The senior police officer also confirmed that there are other charges pending against Miller.

During the trial, which began on November 13, the Crown’s witness, a self-proclaimed former member of the Spanish Town-based Clansman Gang, said that Miller told him that Chambers' murder was a contract killing.

He also identified Miller as the leader of the gang and outlined the hierarchy of the criminal organisation, in which he was an area leader.

The witness, who cannot be named because of a court order, also disclosed that he decided to testify to put an end to the gang violence and extortion taking place in Spanish Town.

Miller, however, denied knowing the witness and asserted that he was not involved in the killing.

This is not the first time that Miller has had a run-in with the law, having been brought before the court in 2009 on a 2004 murder rap and in 2011 on gun-related charges. He was acquitted in both instances.

The former JUTC chairman was gunned down outside the company’s depot in Spanish Town, St Catherine, on June 27, 2008.

nickoy.wilson@gleanerjm.com