Jurors asked to convict accused hitman
Guardian Senior Reporter
Published: Oct 08, 2013
A prosecutor yesterday asked jurors hearing the case of an alleged hired killer not to concern themselves with the acquittals of his co-accused.
Prosecutors say Janaldo Farrington took a contract to take the life of banker Stephen Sherman and was to be paid from his life insurance.
Sherman was killed on February 17, 2012 when a gunman shot him in the head at point-blank range.
Last week, a judge directed a jury to acquit Sherman’s widow, Renea, of conspiracy to commit murder, and Cordero Bethel of conspiracy to commit murder, murder and armed robbery.
In her closing address to the jury, Sandra Dee Gardiner told jurors, “You cannot say it’s not fair because the others are not here, then he too must walk. The only person you are asked to judge is Janaldo Farrington.”
While Gardiner and Farrington’s lawyer Murrio Ducille offered divergent views on the evidence, they both agreed that the case centered on an alleged confession.
Ducille submitted that the statement could not be relied upon because Farrington signed it only after police suffocated him with a plastic bag laced with ammonia.
He said, “You would sign your mother away” in those circumstances.
Gardiner agreed that if the jurors found the statement was obtained illegally that would be the end of the prosecution’s case. However, she asked the jury to accept the statement as Farrington’s own words.
But she noted that Farrington never complained about being beaten or having a bag placed over his head until February 28 when he saw the prison doctor.
Ducille said that Farrington did not match the description of the gunman provided by Sherman’s niece by marriage, Tenaj Hunt. She described the gunman as “very dark and short”.
Ducille said that Farrington was “tall and bright” and had police held an identification parade Farrington would not be before the court.
By contrast, Gardiner said that Farrington “really wasn’t that tall”, estimating his height at around 5 feet 7 inches. She said that Hunt said the gunman was wearing a hat and had a bandana covering his face.
She asked the jury if Hunt was really able to provide an adequate description of the culprit in the circumstances.
The jury will deliberate today after a summation by Justice Roy Jones.