Ac­cused silent, de­fence lets dead man’s ac­tions tell tale

The London Free Press - - FRONT PAGE - JANE SIMS

Not once dur­ing his de­fence did Mo­hamed Sail ut­ter a word.

In­stead, he let the con­duct of Muhab Sul­tan, his 23-year-old com­pan­ion on the night Jeremy Cook, 18, was shot to death, do all the talk­ing.

Sail, 26, has pleaded not guilty to sec­ond­de­gree mur­der — and only he, Sul­tan and Cook would know who fired the .40-cal­i­bre bul­let into the Bramp­ton car­pen­try ap­pren­tice’s chest af­ter he’d tried to re­trieve his lost cell­phone that he’d tracked to Sul­tan’s car.

While the Crown built a case, dur­ing the last week, point­ing to the car’s pas­sen­ger, Sail, as the shooter, the de­fence has gen­tly sug­gest­ing Sul­tan could have done it, too.

Wed­nes­day, that sug­ges­tion got louder, al­though never said out­right, when the de­fence opted to call ev­i­dence in the Su­pe­rior Court jury trial, none of it from the wit­ness box.

And Sul­tan, it ap­pears, is an easy long­time crim­i­nal at whom to point the fin­ger.

For starters, he drowned in the Rideau River in Ot­tawa while try­ing to evade the po­lice, 10 days af­ter Cook was gunned down.

What he left be­hind was a pa­per trail of mis­ery. The jury was told of his crim­i­nal past and Ot­tawa po­lice re­ports of what hap­pened in the mo­ments be­fore Sul­tan was lost in the river.

Sul­tan had an un­en­vi­able crim­i­nal record, re­plete with en­tries for fail­ing to com­ply with court or­ders, pos­sess­ing drugs and re­sist­ing ar­rest.

One en­try from Jan­uary 2011 de­scribed how po­lice were called to a Lon­don va­ri­ety store where Sul­tan was swear­ing and yelling at a woman across the street.

Sul­tan’s brother ex­plained the driver’s side win­dow of their car was smashed dur­ing an ar­gu­ment. Sul­tan was ar­rested for caus­ing a dis­tur­bance, but fled on foot. He was re­ar­rested with a cell­phone and $1,400 in his pocket.

Sul­tan’s brother drove away when Sul­tan was ar­rested. Po­lice later ar­rested the brother. A hand­gun and 15 rounds of am­mu­ni­tion were found in a back­pack on the front seat. Also found were crack co­caine and a dig­i­tal scale.

A gun charge against Sul­tan, de­fence lawyer Sharon Jeethan told the jury, was even­tu­ally with­drawn by the Crown.

The de­fence pointed to Sul­tan’s fran­tic, sus­pi­cious be­hav­iour af­ter Cook was shot. Within hours, he was on a Grey­hound bus to Toronto. The jury al­ready heard of text mes­sages on his phone to his brother to back up a false al­ibi and to his fa­ther ask­ing for money and in­form­ing him that the phone num­ber was be­ing changed.

A Canada-wide war­rant for his ar­rest for sec­ond-de­gree mur­der was al­ready out two days be­fore he drowned when he bumped into Ker­ron McLean, then of Gatineau, in an Ot­tawa Money Mart.

McLean wasn’t called to tes­tify be­fore the jury, but Sail’s de­fence team played a video­taped po­lice state­ment of McLean de­scrib­ing his brief and shock­ing as­so­ci­a­tion with a guy he knew as Has­san from Scar­bor­ough.

McLean had gone to the Money Mart to get a loan for a mo­tor­cy­cle. He was jok­ing about the peo­ple in the store with Sul­tan, who was there pick­ing up a money

trans­fer.fam­ilyand Scar­bor­ough.“He weeks called said mem­bers,”and him­selfhe deal­ing­was McLeanHas­san­here with a some from cou­ple­said

the McLean, in­ter­view who that told he the gave of­fi­cer Sul­tanin his cell­phone num­ber. The next day, they hung out at McLean’s apart­ment smok­ing weed and play­ing video games.

The day of the drown­ing, Sul­tan showed up at McLean’s again and of­fered to drive him to work in a car he’d picked up for $200.

The Ot­tawa po­lice re­ports read to the jury pick up what hap­pened to Sul­tan af­ter that.

Two of­fi­cers on bi­cy­cles spot­ted a green Toy­ota Corolla that had pulled up in front of a Sal­va­tion Army shel­ter to drop off a male pas­sen­ger, later iden­ti­fied as McLean.

McLean was pick­ing up some things he had stored with a friend at the agency. Sul­tan was in the driver’s seat and had “a sur­prised look,” when he saw the po­lice of­fi­cers and sped away, Const. Stephen Brown wrote.

The of­fi­cers thought the be­hav­iour sus­pi­cious and Brown wrote the li­cence plate num­ber on his fore­arm.

Five min­utes later, they saw the car again. It turned onto Cum­ber­land Street and pulled over. Const. Adrian Ben­jamin pulled up to the driver, while Brown rode up near McLean, who was walk­ing up the street and get­ting into the car.

Sul­tan, who kept look­ing around dur­ing the con­ver­sa­tion with Ben­jamin, was asked why he was try­ing to avoid po­lice. He an­swered he was parked and wait­ing for a friend.

He told the of­fi­cer he didn’t have his driver’s li­cence, but was a valid driver. He said his name was Mustafa Elamin from Bramp­ton.

Asked for his cur­rent ad­dress, Sul­tan was un­able to give the proper spell­ing of the street name. Sul­tan was shak­ing as he re­trieved doc­u­ments from the glove com­part­ment. The car was reg­is­tered to an Ot­tawa owner.

Brown moved to the driver’s side when Ben­jamin stepped away to call dis­patch. Sul­tan sud­denly re­versed the car, squeal­ing the tires, and Brown was hit in the rib cage by the driver’s side mir­ror. Sul­tan con­tin­ued to re­verse at about 40 km/h, nar­rowly miss­ing other driv­ers and pedes­tri­ans.

Brown drew his gun, but the car made a U-turn and headed south toward him. Brown tried to jump out of the way, but his arm, with his hands hold­ing the gun, went in­side the driver’s open win­dow and he in­jured his hand pulling it back.

Sev­eral peo­ple at the Sal­va­tion Army had to get out of the way of the speed­ing car.

Const. Chris­tian Destrem­pes picked up the chase af­ter a re­port of a man run­ning through back­yards toward Range Road and Rideau River.

The of­fi­cer fol­lowed up with wit­nesses and ended up at Dutchy’s Hole park, where sev­eral peo­ple said a man was in the wa­ter. He heard scream­ing in the river and saw a man “who was thrash­ing and scream­ing ‘help.’ ”

Po­lice of­fi­cers went into the river, which was about three me­tres deep, to save Sul­tan. They found his shoes in the murky wa­ter, but Sul­tan had dis­ap­peared.

McLean told the of­fi­cers that while in the car, he was ter­ri­fied. He got out as soon as the car slowed and spoke to po­lice.

“I was in a (ex­ple­tive) sit­u­a­tion. I am also a vic­tim be­cause I couldn’t get out of that car,” he told the of­fi­cer.

McLean said when he de­manded Sul­tan let him, Sul­tan’s re­ply was “Chill, chill.”

“I don’t know what was in his mind at that mo­ment,” McLean said.

Sul­tan’s body was found July 29, 2015. A war­rant for Sail was is­sued on July 6,2015.

Sail turned him­self into Lon­don po­lice four days later.

Clos­ing ar­gu­ments are ex­pected Mon­day. jsims@post­media.com twit­ter.com/JaneatLFPress

SUBMITTED

This im­age, surveil­lanceright, in­tro­duced in ev­i­dence, shows Muhab Sul­tan or­der­ing at a drive-thru.

Cook

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