The majority of the alleged Clansman-One Don gangsters who remain on trial Wednesday sought to paint themselves as productive law-abiding citizens who had been steadfastly focused on their families, businesses or jobs before their arrest.
While proclaiming their innocence as if they were a chorus, the defendants distanced themselves from being a part of the gang or any criminal organisation or taking part in any criminal activities that the two ex-gangsters have testified that they were involved in.
Some even testified that they never knew the reputed gang leader, Andre ‘Blackman’ Bryan, before the case, and had met him for the first time when they were initially brought to court in 2019.
With only Bryan having previously completed his case, 23 of the remaining 28 defendants gave evidence yesterday repeatedly denying the prosecution’s case that they are alleged gang members and that they had taken orders from Bryan and had committed multiple murders for the gang.
The defendants, except for two, gave sworn statements in which they also accused the two main witnesses of lying. Some asserted that they had not met the self-confessed former gangsters before they were charged, while several others claim they had met one, in particular, when he was selling “bandulu cigarette”.
However, two defendants – the gang’s alleged second-in-command, Jason ‘City Puss’ Brown, and Tomrick Taylor – opted not to give any statement and closed their cases without bringing any witnesses.
In the meantime, the alleged gangsters who spoke said they had jobs such as a chef, graphic designer and painter, construction worker, stone mason, barber, vendor, labourer, and furniture maker.
They all highlighted that they had never been convicted of any criminal offence and knew nothing about the gang with some declaring also that they did not own a gun and have never fired one.
Some told the court that they had never visited Jones Avenue in Spanish Town, St Catherine, where the gang headquarters is said to be based, and that they did not previously know most of their co-accused, except for those who lived in their communities.
In his defence, Michael Whitely, 23, said: “I am a chef. Mi a cook from mi a 15. Mi not in any gang. A just mi food shop I deal with.”
Another, Lamar Simpson, said that he was just a higgler and construction worker, who had to work hard to care for his family.
“I am a law-abiding citizen. I never own a gun,” said the father of two sons.
Simpson, who was very emotional as he spoke, said, “I am no don for noweh or no one. I am a man who stand for my family and children.”
Meanwhile, brothers Pete Miller and Marco Miller told the court that they would not have joined the gang as it was responsible for their father’s murder.
“I could never be in this gang. From I was a little boy growing up, I heard that Clansman kill my father,” Marco said.
His brother, who had earlier expressed a similar sentiment, also told the court that one of the alleged killers was also in the trial.
Earlier, during the playing of the secret recordings, a voice attributed to Brown was heard boasting how he had killed the Miller brothers’ father.
Pete, during his unsworn testimony, sought the judge’s permission to rebut the former don-turned-state witness description that he had a bent leg, and sparked laughter from the court when he swiftly stepped down from the dock to show the judge his gait.
Both brothers who were alleged to have been involved in a double-murder of two Denham Town men, both denied their involvement.
According to Marco, one of the witnesses had a grudge against him because he was close to one of his girlfriends and it was being rumoured that he had got the girl pregnant.
From that time, he said, the witness “talk say mi fi dead”.
Two of Bryan’s relatives – brother Kevaugn Green and cousin Roel Taylor – also professed their innocence, insisting they were not a part of a gang.
Green said he was a labourer and has never handled any weapons like the witness had told the court.
Taylor, who was charged for a gun that was reportedly found in his furniture shop, said he knows nothing about the weapon.
His common-law wife also testified on his behalf stating that the shop had a door that could not close and that she had never seen that door closed.
Meanwhile, 20 of the defendants have closed their cases with about three awaiting documents and witnesses to complete theirs.
The matter will continue today with more defendants presenting their cases before Chief Justice Bryan Sykes.