The father of Anfernee Bowman, who was stabbed to death in 2012 said he is still trying to understand how stabbing someone six times including twice in the heart could be described as “accidental.”
An emotional Gary Bowman is still trying to come to grips with the fact that the case against the accused Samuel Cornelius was discharged in the High Court last Tuesday despite the compelling evidence that was before the court.
In a recent interview with Stabroek News he said he will now be looking at all the legal options available to him as he just cannot allow his son’s death to go without justice. The state has since indicated its intention to file an appeal.
The visibly heartbroken man said he attended every hearing since the commencement of the High Court trial. He resides overseas, but said that he took time off from his job to be present in Guyana for the months that the matter was being heard in the Magistrates’ Court and the High Court.
The trial began on July 14 before Justice Diana Insanally, who on Tuesday accepted no-case submissions filed by the attorney for the accused.
Bowman said that towards the end of the trial he was confident there would have been a guilty verdict. “There was no doubt… because the amount of wounds; two stab wounds to his face, four to his body including two to his heart.” He said police had found the murder weapon – a screwdriver – at the scene. No attempts were made to retrieve fingerprints as the police indicated that the design of the handle would make this difficult, he said.
He said a witness had even testified to seeing the murder weapon “drop” from the accused as he fled.
Bowman said that for him it was an open and shut case.
He recalled that on Monday last, the prosecution brought its last witness – the pathologist who had performed the post-mortem examination. The doctor, he recalled, explained in detail how the teen died, the wounds he sustained, the length of the weapon that went into his body among other details. He said that from looking at the jury, “you could have seen the shock and it was on this basis that he had concluded that they would have found the accused guilty. This was the only point of the case that the jury really took notice of any evidence…,” he stressed.
Bowman said that during the preliminary inquiry (PI) two and a half years ago, the police witnesses were more robust in their testimony but when they appeared in the High Court their demeanour was different. All of a sudden, they “could not recall this and could not recall that,” he said.
Bowman said he always wants the system to work but in this case “the system failed, the police failed.”
He stated that it was clearly established during the trial as well as the PI that there was a fight and his son sustained six stab wounds and died. Who started the fight, he stated is unclear.
He said the accused claimed that his son had the weapon. He pointed out too that the accused was on the run for two days before he turned himself over to the police in the company of a lawyer and his father, and claimed that he had a wound on his elbow. Bowman made the point that during the trial no mention was made by the police witnesses that the suspect was on the run for two days.
Bowman said he was not blaming the prosecutor because she had to work with what she had. “The police didn’t do quite a good job,” he said adding that the pathologist later came and gave “strong testimony.”
After the doctor testified, he said, defence counsel Mark Waldron asked that the jury leave and made a no-case submission, citing several legal cases. The prosecution, he said, responded that the duo fought and at the end one person was dead with multiple stab wounds including two to his heart and as such the case should go to the jury.
He said the judge then adjourned the matter to the following day for decision and on that day it took just about 15 minutes for the decision to be handed down.
He said the judge sent the jury out and then addressed the court. He said that from the judge’s tone he knew the accused was going to be freed and he was shocked that the judge referred to the killing as an accident. “How could somebody be stabbed six time accidentally?” he questioned.
The judge then called back in the members of the jury and directed them to return a not-guilty verdict, he added.
He said that it was evident from the facial expression of some of the jurors that they were surprised.
He said the accused’s lawyer then patted him on the back following which they shared a laugh. He said during the trial, the defence made it their duty to paint his son as the aggressor.
Bowman said if the accused had been found guilty of manslaughter at least, “maybe I could have lived with that a bit.” He said that to free him totally and then to say it was an accident is devastating.
After the prosecutor indicated to the court that she intended to appeal the decision, Justice Insanally placed the accused on $300,000 bail after hearing an application from the defence.
Bowman said that since the incident, no family members of the accused ever said anything to them. “They never reach out to us, give us sympathy, nothing…” he said adding that the accused never showed any remorse; instead, he would be laughing and carrying on as if nothing happened.
He said that his son and the accused were good friends at one point. He recalled that the duo were so close that the accused visited their home and had even been a part of his son’s 16th birthday celebration.
He said that the outcome of the case painted a picture that his son’s life was “worthless”.
“I am totally devastated and shattered. I felt the same way when my son was pronounced dead at the hospital,” he said.
Bowman said that given what has happened in this case it is unwise for there to be a lengthy delay between the end of a preliminary inquiry and the start of a trial. He stressed that he cannot allow his son’s death to go down in vain and is prepared to fight for the justice he knows he and his family deserve.