A MAN who was among six people freed of murder yesterday, says many so-called eyewitnesses to crimes who the police are searching for to give evidence in court, may themselves be in jail doing time for other matters.
Israel “Arnold” Lara, 29, who was freed of a murder charge after spending nine years in Remand Yard, made this claim saying he had that exact experience while waiting for the judiciary to complete preliminary inquiries into his case.
“The first time we went before (then chief magistrate) Marcia Ayers-Caesar, the eyewitness against us even went to court with us,” Lara said. “We had to ask the officers to move him because we didn’t want anyone to say that we influenced him.”
“Right now there are eyewitnesses in jail liming normal, normal and the system making it look like a big thing...like they are fearing for their lives."
Speaking at his home in Diego Martin, Lara said he came across that same eyewitness on several occasions in jail, however he (the eyewitness) was never around when his name was called to testify in court. In fact, Lara said that two other men who singled him out, could not be found to appear in court to testify either.
“The one who pointed us out (in an ID parade), they (the police) could not get him to come (to testify). The second one is in America...in jail and will not come out until 2020. The third one said he did not make out people by their faces but by what they were wearing,” Lara said.
Lara said several people on remand are awaiting trial for crimes they did not commit while the actual perpetrators are walking free. He claimed several "state witnesses" are really criminals involved in gangs who are framing people in order to eliminate perceived rivals.
In 2010, Lara and Akili Charles, Chicki Portillo, Anton Cambridge, Kareem Gomez and Levi Joseph were arrested and charged with the murder of Russel Antoine, a Cepep worker. Yesterday, Chief Magistrate Maria Busby-Earle-Caddle upheld a no-case submission and discharged the men of the charge of murdering Antoine.
Now that he is free, Lara said he wants to reconnect with his community and use his experience of life in Remand Yard to steer impressionable youths in his area away from the glamour of crime. "Let me tell you this, jail ent nice," he said.
“I want to encourage the youths to stay away from the temptation of the fast life in order to stay out of jail,” he said. "What I went through (nine years in jail) I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy far less for the youths in my community.”