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Attorney: Possible Witness in Cockayne Murder in Custody

May 1, 2008 — A potential witness now in protective custody may be the key to exonerating two suspects already charged with first-degree murder in the June 19, 2007 stabbing death of James "Jamie" Cockayne on St. John, according to a local defense attorney.
During a pre-trial conference held in Superior Court Thursday, attorney Michael Joseph said the individual had been the victim in another unrelated incident and had previously been "sent away by the government for his own protection."
But it was unclear whether the individual would be called as a witness once the trial starts in early October, even though Joseph said it is "understood" that he has confessed to the murder.
Attorneys named the man during the hearing, but said they were unsure how to spell the name. He was not identified in Superior Court court documents.
Joseph is representing Kamal "Six Pack" Thomas, who was arrested in August 2007 and charged with first-degree murder and assault, along with using a dangerous weapon during the commission of a crime of violence. He was also later charged with intimidating a witness.
Both Thomas and Anselmo Boston were involved in an argument with Cockayne at the Front Yard Bar in Cruz Bay on the night of the killing, according to witnesses quoted in a police affidavit.
Boston, who is also facing first degree murder, weapons and assault charges in Cockayne's death, has admitted to having a verbal confrontation with "a white guy" who had "kicked his jeep" earlier that evening, according to a statement obtained by police after the incident. Boston added that he hit Cockayne in the shoulder and neck with a pool stick, but did not follow when Cockayne left the bar a little later.
On Thursday, Joseph said that another alibi witness in the case — a minor who was referred to during the hearing as "A.L." — can confirm that she and her boyfriend "gave a ride" to a different individual, who claimed on the evening of Cockayne's murder that he had "iced the white guy."
"We're going to claim that it was [that man] who did the act," Joseph said.
The defense's argument raised concerns for Superior Court Judge Brenda J. Hollar, who said that she could not elicit a confession on the stand without advising the witness of his rights or giving him the opportunity to retain an attorney.
"I also can't call someone to the stand just to have them invoke the Fifth Amendment," she added. "This is an issue I have to pan out before the trial begins."
Joseph said that he may not have to call the man to the stand, but asked that the government "produce him" for trial.
After the hearing, government attorney Renee Gumbs Carty said that she is not sure whether the individual is still in protective custody and could not say whether he would be used as a witness in the government's case against Thomas and Boston.
Meanwhile, the government has until Aug. 15 to submit all expert testimony and test reports — including DNA analysis still being conducted by the FBI, Hollar said. The judge set a trial date of Oct. 6 for the case, with jury selection beginning three days before.
Carty said the government might not be able to meet that deadline, since the analysis is expected to take nine months to a year to complete. Evidence that has already been sent away includes blood samples from both Thomas and Boston, clothing found on Cockayne's body on the night of the murder and other samples taken from the crime scene and during the subsequent investigation.
"That's the most outstanding thing — the DNA results," Carty said. "And we were told that it would be at least nine months before we can get them." Carty said that she could not comment on when the evidence was sent.
During the hearing, Hollar made it clear that the trial will start in October with or without the DNA evidence.
"I'm not waiting nine months," she said. "I usually give the government a year, but two years? No. Not for a murder trial. You don't need to be arresting anybody if you can't get your stuff together. I'm ignoring the nine months — it's out. This thing is going to trial this year."
She suggested that the government look at cutting down delays in the analysis process.
"DNA is preliminary now," she said. "This situation about not having a lab, or the right people or the money to do the analysis has to be addressed. Two young people are on trial here. They're waiting for their day in court. There's no reason for this kind of thing to continue."
The final pre-trial conference is scheduled for Oct. 1. At that time, Hollar is expected to rule on any outstanding motions in the case — including a motion from Boston's defense attorney Benjamin Currence asking for modifications to the conditions of Boston's release.
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May 1, 2008 -- A potential witness now in protective custody may be the key to exonerating two suspects already charged with first-degree murder in the June 19, 2007 stabbing death of James "Jamie" Cockayne on St. John, according to a local defense attorney.
During a pre-trial conference held in Superior Court Thursday, attorney Michael Joseph said the individual had been the victim in another unrelated incident and had previously been "sent away by the government for his own protection."
But it was unclear whether the individual would be called as a witness once the trial starts in early October, even though Joseph said it is "understood" that he has confessed to the murder.
Attorneys named the man during the hearing, but said they were unsure how to spell the name. He was not identified in Superior Court court documents.
Joseph is representing Kamal "Six Pack" Thomas, who was arrested in August 2007 and charged with first-degree murder and assault, along with using a dangerous weapon during the commission of a crime of violence. He was also later charged with intimidating a witness.
Both Thomas and Anselmo Boston were involved in an argument with Cockayne at the Front Yard Bar in Cruz Bay on the night of the killing, according to witnesses quoted in a police affidavit.
Boston, who is also facing first degree murder, weapons and assault charges in Cockayne's death, has admitted to having a verbal confrontation with "a white guy" who had "kicked his jeep" earlier that evening, according to a statement obtained by police after the incident. Boston added that he hit Cockayne in the shoulder and neck with a pool stick, but did not follow when Cockayne left the bar a little later.
On Thursday, Joseph said that another alibi witness in the case -- a minor who was referred to during the hearing as "A.L." -- can confirm that she and her boyfriend "gave a ride" to a different individual, who claimed on the evening of Cockayne's murder that he had "iced the white guy."
"We're going to claim that it was [that man] who did the act," Joseph said.
The defense's argument raised concerns for Superior Court Judge Brenda J. Hollar, who said that she could not elicit a confession on the stand without advising the witness of his rights or giving him the opportunity to retain an attorney.
"I also can't call someone to the stand just to have them invoke the Fifth Amendment," she added. "This is an issue I have to pan out before the trial begins."
Joseph said that he may not have to call the man to the stand, but asked that the government "produce him" for trial.
After the hearing, government attorney Renee Gumbs Carty said that she is not sure whether the individual is still in protective custody and could not say whether he would be used as a witness in the government's case against Thomas and Boston.
Meanwhile, the government has until Aug. 15 to submit all expert testimony and test reports -- including DNA analysis still being conducted by the FBI, Hollar said. The judge set a trial date of Oct. 6 for the case, with jury selection beginning three days before.
Carty said the government might not be able to meet that deadline, since the analysis is expected to take nine months to a year to complete. Evidence that has already been sent away includes blood samples from both Thomas and Boston, clothing found on Cockayne's body on the night of the murder and other samples taken from the crime scene and during the subsequent investigation.
"That's the most outstanding thing -- the DNA results," Carty said. "And we were told that it would be at least nine months before we can get them." Carty said that she could not comment on when the evidence was sent.
During the hearing, Hollar made it clear that the trial will start in October with or without the DNA evidence.
"I'm not waiting nine months," she said. "I usually give the government a year, but two years? No. Not for a murder trial. You don't need to be arresting anybody if you can't get your stuff together. I'm ignoring the nine months -- it's out. This thing is going to trial this year."
She suggested that the government look at cutting down delays in the analysis process.
"DNA is preliminary now," she said. "This situation about not having a lab, or the right people or the money to do the analysis has to be addressed. Two young people are on trial here. They're waiting for their day in court. There's no reason for this kind of thing to continue."
The final pre-trial conference is scheduled for Oct. 1. At that time, Hollar is expected to rule on any outstanding motions in the case -- including a motion from Boston's defense attorney Benjamin Currence asking for modifications to the conditions of Boston's release.
Back Talk


Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.