Saturday, January 8, 2011

Was Patricia Innis the victim of a jealous spouse ?

There is no doubt that the police did not investigate the question of whether any other person could have a motive to murder Patricia Innis. They arrested and charged Wilton Smith the day following the murder and clearly articulated the theory of their case to the media. Wilton Smith was awaiting disposition on a charge of uttering threats involving Ms. Innis and therefore they reasoned that he killed her so she could not testify against him.

As is so often the case in situations where the Defendant asserts that they were wrongly convicted, evidence presented at the trial puts a very different gloss on the initial police theory of the case. The Wilton Smith case is no exception and is somewhat unique. The case is unique because no one witnessed Wilton Smith commit the murder. No one placed Wilton Smith at the scene of the crime other than Wilton Smith himself. Iona Davis claimed that she discovered the dead body in the apartment that she shared with her and her infant child - Ocheann. The evidence offered by Iona Davis and Delroy Benjamin was that Wilton Smith drew Delroy Benjamin out of the house by telling him that his employer was hiring and that he Delroy should come down and apply for a job. While Delroy is away - someone sneeks into the home and murders Patrica Innis. This version of the murder does two things. Firstly, it tends to absolve Davis since she is the one who called the police. Secondly, it removes Delroy Benjamin from the crime scene and at the same time casts a shadow over Wilton Smith.

Analysis of police theory
of Wilton Smith liability:

The police theory of liability is crude and simplistic. Wilton Smith was awaiting trial on March 12th, 1992 on a charge of uttering a threat to cause death to Patricia Innis therefore he killed her so she could not testify against him. Iona Davis discovered the body and called the police. Delroy Benjamin was lured out of the house by Wilton Smith so that he could sneek in the apartment and murder Patricia Innis. After Wilton Smith is committed to stand trial police somehow attend at Joseph Pryce's place of employment with a photo-lineup prepared to show to him and he picks Smith out as "the man who came in to sharpen the machete." Pryce testified that he did not contact the police prior to this and they did not contact him. He said he was surprised when the police arrived and wanted to talk to him. Not surprisingly the jury found this quite remarkable and asked the trial judge how did the police come to know of Joseph Pryce. The judge told them there was in fact no evidence of this in the trial.

Was this a jealous spouse
murder ?

Iona Davis and Delroy Benjamin were a married couple. Evidence at the trial confirmed that prior to coming to Canada they lived as a couple, had two children together and were formally married in March 1993. Ms. Davis arrived in Canada from Jamaica on January 29th, 1992. Prior to her arrival in Canada, Mr. Benjamin was already in Canada and he admitted to sleeping at Ms. Innis' home "several times". Ms. Davis started residing with Ms. Innis in February - some two to three weeks prior to the murder on March 10th, 1992.

Did Mr. Benjamin
impregnate Patricia Innis ?

Wilton Smith testified at his trial that some time in February, 1992 Ms. Innis reluctantly informed him that she was pregnant and that Delroy Benjamin was the father. He further testified that she decided and to his knowledge she had an abortion some time in February. Mr. Smith testified that Ms. Innis was very ashamed of the situation and she requested that he keep it a secret and not tell anyone. Iona Davis testified that she was informed of Ms. Innis's pregnancy by Delroy Benjamin. Delroy Benjamin testified that Ms. Innis told him "in a sense that she was pregnant." Keep in mind the timing of these three incidents, namely, Iona Davis' moving in with Patricia Innis, news of the pregnancy and the abortion. Let us now examine the testimony around these issues:

Defence Lawyer: Now, the relationship that you had with Patricia we have
discussed. You guys were very, very good friends I think is how
you put it ?

Benjamin: That's correct.

Defence Lawyer: And I gather that Patricia told you that she was pregnant ?

Benjamin: No, she didn't told me in a sense. No, she didn't told me in
sense that she was pregnant.

Defence Lawyer: She didn't tell you in a sense ?

Benjamin: No.

Defence Lawyer: She told you in some other sense that she was pregnant ?

Benjamin: Yeah.

Defence Lawyer; And that was a conversation between you and Patricia ?

Benjamin: Not really a conversation.

Defence Lawyer: You and Patricia were doing the talking -- or Patricia was doing
the talking and she suggested to you something you so you believed
she was pregnant ?

Benjamin: No.

Defence Lawyer: No ?

Benjamin: No. I saw her sitting looking in space and I ask her, what's
wrong with you; are you pregnant ? And she say, hm-hmm, that's

Defence Lawyer: So she said hm-hmm in the affirmative ?

Benjamin: Yeah.

Defence Lawyer: Okay. Now, I guess you know that Patricia didn't tell Iona that
she was pregnant ?

Benjamin: I don't know.

Defence Lawyer: You don't know that ?

Benjamin: No.

Defence Lawyer: How many nights did you spend at Patricia's place Mr. Benjamin ?

Benjamin: I don't know how many nights. Several.

Defence Lawyer: Several ?

Benjamin: Yeah.

Davis' evidence on
the pregnancy:

Defence Lawyer: Miss Davis, did you know anything about Patricia being pregnant ?

Davis: She didn't tell it to me.

Defence Lawyer: Did you know anything about it ?

Davis: Delroy tell it to me.

Defence Lawyer: Do you remember when he told you about it ?

Davis: No.

Defence Lawyer: Did you find out anything about who was the father ?

Davis: No.

Defence Lawyer: Now, when Delroy told you about it, was it before or after
she died ?

Davis: Before she died.

Defence Lawyer: Now, was that when you were living with her ?

Davis: Yes.

Defence Lawyer: And Patricia is a good friend to you ?

Davis: Yes.

Defence Lawyer: And that was before she died. And were you staying with her at
that time ?

Davis: No.

Mr. Smith's Evidence
in brief:

Wilton Smith testified under oath that Ms. Innis told him in February, 1992 that she was pregnant with Delroy Benjamin's child. He testified that she decided to and did in fact have an abortion in the same month. According to Smith Davis moved in with Patricia Innis after the abortion. Mr. Smith told the jury that it was Ms. Innis who pushed him to assist Delroy in trying to find a job. Smith confirmed that at some point in February he did take Delroy to his place of work in search of work. However, he denied calling him on the morning of March 10th, 1992 to lure him out of the house. Instead - Smith told the jury a very different version of facts.

Patricia's call the
night before:

Wilton Smith testified that the night before the murder he received a call from Patricia Innis asking him to come over to her place. He testified that there was a lot of noise in the background but he could not identify who it was. He testified that he asked her what was wrong but she would not say other than to tell him to come over. Smith testified that he did not go as it was late but he called her in the morning and she again asked him to come over and he did.

According to Smith's testimony he arrived at the apartment and Davis, Benjamin, Innis and Ocheann were all in attendance. Wilton testified that Patricia was relaying some dissatisfaction pertaining to monies owed her by Delroy or something along those lines. He said he needed to urinate and accordingly entered the washroom and was in the process when he stated something to the effect - "I told you long ago to run those loafters out of your place." Delroy Benjamin exclaimed - "what did he say ?". Smith testified that Innis responded in an angry tone, "He said I should run you loafters out of my place." According to Smith this triggered a violent reaction from Benjamin who then rushed the washroom and started fighting with Smith. while the two men were fighting the deceased stated that she was going to call the police. According to Smith the two women then got into a very heated exchange of words where the deceased referred to Davis as a "mule" - a women who can not conceive and Davis fired back called the deceased a "cemetery" - a woman who has had an abortion. Wilton Smith testified that while he was fighting with Delroy he looked over and the deceased was on the floor with Davis standing over her with a bloody meat-cleaver in her hand. Smith testified that Delroy threatened that if he told anyone his mother would be dead. Smith said he ran out of the apartment in fear.

To be continued....

NOTE: This piece is written for the sole purpose of drawing attention to an issue of public importance. The rule of law and democracy works best when ideas are freely exchanged.

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