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Andre ‘Blackman’ Bryan, the 38-year-old alleged leader of the One Don faction of the Clansman gang, has denied involvement in any gang activity or ordering the murder of any of the individuals whose deaths have been attributed to him.
Instead, he claims to be a law-abiding musician.
“I am a law-abiding citizen of the Jones Avenue community in Spanish Town,” Bryan told the court.
He made the claims while giving an unsworn statement from the dock on Monday during the keenly watched gang trial in the Home Circuit Court in downtown Kingston.
A total of 28 defendants remain on trial, as while several of the accused, including Bryan, have been freed of some counts on the indictment, Chief Justice Bryan Sykes ruled that there are several other offenses for which they have to answer.
Among the counts that the 28 accused will have to mount defenses is that of being part of a criminal organization.
After the morning’s dramatic developments, it was time for the defense to begin making their cases.
A nervous-looking Bryan then took the microphone and began making his unsworn statement from the dock.
“I did not do the things the witnesses said I did. I did not give any instructions or orders to kill anyone,” Bryan told the presiding judge.
He went to declare that he knew nothing about the collection of extortion money from businesses and transport operators in Spanish Town, St Catherine.
“I am innocent of these charges,” Bryan further claimed.
“I did not shoot anyone at the New Nursery community. I wasn’t there. I am innocent of these charges,” he added.
His unsworn statement from the dock means that Bryan will not face cross-examination by prosecutors at the trial.
His statement came after Sykes ruled that he and the other accused have a case to answer to the charges relative to a double murder and arson attack in ‘Fisheries’ or ‘New Nursery’ in Spanish Town in 2017.
Jermaine Robinson and his girlfriend, Cedella Walder, were killed during that incident.
Some of the 28 alleged gangsters also have cases to answer relative to four other murder charges.
The remaining five murder charges were dropped because of insufficient evidence.
With count 25 of the indictment, which involved a conspiracy to murder a man called ‘Ice’, Bryan was freed on that count because of insufficient evidence to support that the alleged target existed.
The other accused who were freed on that count were St Thomas’s pastor and an alleged main operative of the gang, Stephanie ‘Mumma’ Christie; Jahzeel Blake, Lamar Simpson, and Andre Golding.
Meanwhile, Bryan and another accused, Ted Prince, was freed on a count of murder that was listed on the indictment as count 20. That incident was the murder of a man at Phil’s Hardware in Spanish Town.
According to Sykes, there was no evidence that the man was murdered. The judge said there was no post-mortem nor scene of crime evidence to support that the man was killed.
Sykes said, however, that Bryan has a case to answer with the murder of a person called ‘Doolie’ on Red Hills Road in St Andrew.
About the murder of a man known as ‘Tesha Bus Driver’ in the Spanish Town Bus Park on February 6, 2018, accused Ricardo Thomas, Michael Whitely and Brian Morris were freed on that count.
However, accused Marco Miller, Chevroy Evans and Andre Godling have a case to answer, according to Sykes.
Jason ‘City Puss’ Brown, an alleged main operative of the gang, also has several charges to answer, including being a member of a criminal organization.
Brown was heard on secret recordings of cell phone conversations with other alleged gangsters expressing concern that some of their cronies were betraying Bryan, and they were no longer loyal to the gang.
Brown has been incarcerated since being convicted of a murder that was unrelated to the gang in 2012.
Despite some being freed of some of the charges, none of the 28 remaining alleged gangsters have been freed from custody, as they all have other cases to answer.
In the meantime, three of the defense attorneys have requested subpoenas to have the custody book at the Spanish Town Police Station, and the prison admission book at the Horizon Remand Centre for the period 2017 to 2019, presented in court as evidence.
Two other attorneys indicated that they will be calling character witnesses to aid in their defense of their clients.
The trial is to resume on Wednesday when other defense attorneys will begin presenting their clients’ cases.
The 28 accused are being tried under the Criminal Justice (Suppression of Criminal Organisations Act), 2014, better known as the anti-gang legislation, on an indictment containing several counts.
The offenses were allegedly committed between January 1, 2015, and June 30, 2019, mainly in St Catherine, with at least one murder being committed in St Andrew.