Appeal Court overturns conviction in triple killing

NASSAU- A man jailed for the revenge killings of three people has been freed on appeal.

Shawn Knowles was jailed for 18 years for manslaughter in the July 30, 2011 shooting deaths of Edward Braynen, Chackara Rahming and Erica Ward, who was eight months pregnant.

Prosecutors contended that Knowles committed the crimes as payback for the July 12, 2011 murders of Kevin Forbes, Knowles’ uncle, and Alwayne Leslie at a Haitian village off Montgomery Avenue.

Ward was pregnant for Serrano Adderley, the 30-year-old man charged with the deaths of Forbes and Leslie.

The day after the murders, Knowles was found with two shotguns. Ballistic testing showed that one of the guns was the murder weapon.

Knowles was also convicted of possession of unlicensed firearms and sentenced to three years’ imprisonment.

Knowles and his co-accused Timmy Saunders were tried for the murders in 2016, but the judge left the alternative charge of manslaughter by provocation for the jury.

The jury voted 8 to 4 guilty on each murder charge. However, a unanimous verdict was required.

On Monday, the Court of Appeal said the judge should have ordered a retrial.

The decision said, “If the jury could not arrive at a true verdict on the murder charge, the jury should have been discharged and a new trial should have taken place. The jury could not consider a manslaughter charge unless it had found the appellant not guilty of murder.”

However, the appellate court also found that there was insufficient evidence to support Knowles’ convictions on either charge.

The court said that Knowles’ recent possession of the murder weapons was not enough to infer that he had committed the crimes.

In Knowles’ statement to police, he said he hid the guns for an unidentified friend.

The court reasoned, “Dealers in illegal firearms are known to rent weapons to other persons. That person may have committed a homicide, but that would not make the dealer guilty of murder.”

As a result, the court said there wasn’t enough evidence to require Knowles to present a defence on the murder chargrs.

The judges also ruled that the judge shouldn’t have left manslaughter as an alternative verdict.

The court quashed the convictions on the firearms offenses after the Court ruled that the Supreme Court had no jurisdiction to hear the charges.

Saunders, Knowles’ co-accused, remains in prison on the same charges after he abandoned his appeals in January.