Judge notes ID hurdle in alleged ‘City Puss’ tapes
Although the voice attributed to the Clansman-One Don Gang’s alleged second in command featured extensively in one of the secretly recorded conversations and detailed what appeared to be information only an insider would be privy to, Chief Justice Bryan Sykes has said that it is not sufficient to find that he was a member of the alleged gang.
The judge, during his summation on Wednesday, said that other evidence given in relation to the defendant will have to be considered.
Defendant Jason Brown, who the court heard also goes by the names ‘City Puss’ and ‘Lucifer’, was identified by two ex-gangsters as the gang’s deputy leader. However, both prosecution witnesses were unable to physically identify the alleged gangster in court as they had never seen him before.
A senior gang investigator had, however, identified Brown in court and testified that he was able to pinpoint him after hearing his voice in a voice message and after visiting the prison and tricking Brown into speaking with him.
Brown is facing only one count on the indictment – being a member of a criminal organisation.
One of the prosecution’s witnesses, who had secretly recorded conversations that he reportedly had with Brown and other members, had also testified that he knows Brown by voice and that he had an “ evil voice”.
Additionally, the witness testified that he had spoken to Brown, who is incarcerated, almost daily and for hours and would sometimes add other gangsters to a conference call.
The witness in question had used three cellular phones, including two which he had obtained from an investigator, to record the conversations via call recording applications.
He had also identified the voices in the conversations, which were transcribed and submitted into evidence.
On Wednesday, after reviewing one of the transcripts, which pertained to a 77-minute long conversation among the ex-gangster, Brown, and the lone female defendant, Stephanie Cole Christie, the judge said that based on the nature of the conversation and how it flowed, the Crown’s theory that they were members of the gang was not far-fetched.
However, he said that the issue of Brown’s identification still has to be settled.
“The remaining question is whether other evidence in the case is sufficient to say City Puss referred to here is Mr Jason Brown and whether Mr ... made the identification,” Justice Sykes said.
According to the judge, the question of whether the conversation was long enough for the witness to identify Brown’s voice has already been answered, noting that it was clearly lengthy by any measure.
“The other part of it is whether Mr … is to be believed when he says that he spoke to this gentleman for extended periods of time – hours even – and if that is accepted, you still have the final question of whether the identification of Mr Brown by his voice is accurate,” Justice Sykes added.
Added to that, he said that the court has to make a decision on the identification that was done by the police witness and whether the voice identification was reliable.
Pointing to the evidence in the conversation, which covered loyalty to the gang, hard times, concerns about the disintegration of the gang as well as succession planning, the judge asked, “Who but an insider would know this?”
He also reiterated that based on the narrative, the speakers appear very familiar with each other, while pointing out that there was no evidence that anyone sought to question who the other speakers were.
The judge, however, noted that Brown had not given a statement from the dock, hence there is nothing to counter the witness’ evidence. As a result, he said this case would have to be a classic burden-of-proof assessment.
Twenty-seven defendants are being tried on an indictment with 14 counts under the Criminal Justice (Suppression of Criminal Organizations) Act and the Firearms Act. Five others were earlier freed while another was killed while on bail last August.
Justice Sykes will continue his summation today.