The mur­der of Kha­jeel Mais

Jamaica Gleaner - - OPINION & COMMENTARY - An­nie Paul An­nie Paul is a writer and critic based at the Univer­sity of the West Indies and au­thor of the blog, Ac­tive Voice (an­niepaul.net). Email feed­back to col­umns@glean­erjm.com or tweet @an­niepaul.

OVER THE past two weeks, I no­ticed that a par­tic­u­lar post on my blog Ac­tive Voice from five years ago was get­ting in­creased traf­fic. It was a piece ti­tled ‘The only Ja­maican pa­per with balls – The Sun­day Her­ald’ and I couldn’t un­der­stand what had sud­denly aroused so much in­ter­est in the now-de­funct news­pa­per. When the traf­fic not only per­sisted but started to in­crease, I de­cided to reread the post to find out what was driv­ing this in­ter­est, only to find out that the ar­ti­cle was about the case of the X6 killer, and the sus­pected killer Pa­trick Pow­ell, now in the news again after hav­ing been freed of mur­der charges on Oc­to­ber 24.

Pow­ell stood ac­cused of shoot­ing and killing 17-year-old Kha­jeel Mais on July 1, 2011, in what ap­peared to be a case of road rage, after the taxi Mais was rid­ing in ac­ci­den­tally bumped into Pow­ell’s BMW X6. That post, writ­ten in Novem­ber 6, 2011, made the point that the sus­pect in the case needed to be named in­stead of be­ing re­ferred to con­stantly as the ‘X6 killer’.

As with the Steven Causwell case I re­cently wrote about, the case of the X6 killer has been full of bizarre twists and turns, not least of which was the fi­nal out­come of the charges against Pa­trick Pow­ell be­ing dropped be­cause a wit­ness for the pros­e­cu­tion sud­denly turned ‘hos­tile’, now claim­ing, con­trary to the re­port he made in 2011, that he couldn’t iden­tify the driver of the X6 as the killer.

Yet, as Dennis Brooks has pointed out, this wit­ness said in a Ja­maica Ob­server ar­ti­cle shortly after the ac­ci­dent in July 2011, al­beit with a good deal of ner­vous­ness and fear, that “after run­ning into the back of the sport util­ity ve­hi­cle, he stopped and heard Mais, who was in the back seat, say­ing, ‘Him com­ing wid a gun.’”

The taxi op­er­a­tor said he tried leav­ing the scene when the driver of the BMW fired on his ve­hi­cle, hit­ting Mais in the head. He said the man fired sev­eral more rounds, then gave chase in his lux­ury ve­hi­cle. The taxi op­er­a­tor said he drove to the nearby Con­stant Spring Po­lice Sta­tion.

“He wanted to take our lives,” said the taxi op­er­a­tor, speak­ing of the shooter. “He wanted to kill us. A jus’ me life mi see in front a mi.”

In July 2011, the po­lice found enough ev­i­dence to charge Pa­trick Pow­ell, who was re­ported as hav­ing ‘fled the is­land’, with the mur­der of Kha­jeel Mais, even go­ing to the ex­tent of be­lat­edly ar­rest­ing his son, Jah­nai Pow­ell, for al­legedly crip­pling a man in 2009. The Ob­server re­ported that Jah­nai Pow­ell’s at­tor­ney, Peter Cham­pag­nie, “com­plained that Pow­ell was only ar­rested to lure his fa­ther back to the is­land from the United States where he had fled, fol­low­ing the shoot­ing death of 17-yearold Kingston Col­lege stu­dent Kha­jeel Mais on July 1”.

In the wake of ac­cu­sa­tions of cor­rup­tion on their part, the po­lice have is­sued a state­ment de­tail­ing their ac­tions in the case:

“Mr Pow­ell was picked up at the Nor­man Man­ley In­ter­na­tional Air­port on July 11, 2011, fol­low­ing his re­turn from over­seas. He was put in po­lice cus­tody and ques­tioned that same day about the in­ci­dent and the where­abouts of his firearm. On the in­struc­tions of his at­tor­ney, he re­fused to an­swer and was sub­se­quently served with a no­tice un­der Sec­tion 39(4) of the Firearms Act to hand over his firearm. He in­di­cated that on the in­struc­tions of his lawyer, he would not hand it over.

“The firearm in ques­tion, which is sus­pected to be the mur­der weapon, was never handed over to the po­lice. This hin­dered in­ves­ti­ga­tors from se­cur­ing crit­i­cal foren­sic ev­i­dence and con­duct­ing the nec­es­sary anal­y­sis and com­par­i­son of ma­te­rial found at the crime scene and bul­let frag­ments re­trieved from the body of the Kha­jeel.”

To com­pli­cate mat­ters fur­ther, in Novem­ber 2011, the Ob­server re­ported that a foren­sic re­port had come out stat­ing that gun­shot residue was found on 17-year-old mur­der vic­tim Kha­jeel Mais’ right hand. This may ex­plain why Pow­ell’s at­tor­neys made Mais’ char­ac­ter the sub­ject of tes­ti­mony in court last week.

I draw no con­clu­sions from any of this, as the truth is yet to emerge about what ac­tu­ally hap­pened to Kha­jeel Mais on July 1, 2011. The last word shall go to Duane Allen, who quipped about the out­come of the non-trial on Face­book:

“The de­ceased’s de­plorable record of de­port­ment acted as a mag­net for the bul­let that killed him. This mag­netism was so strong that it ren­dered the meet­ing of the bul­let and his body in­evitable and to­tally ex­on­er­ated the de­fen­dant. There was, there­fore, no ac­tus reus, lead­ing in­ex­orably to the de­fen­dant’s right to an ac­quit­tal and the con­clu­sion that the de­ceased’s demise was self-in­flicted.”

PA­TRICK PLANTER/ PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

Re­porter Dara Smith blocks the path of Pa­trick Pow­ell to get first bite at a re­sponse as he left the Home Cir­cuit Court in down­town Kingston a free man on Mon­day. His only re­ac­tion to his ac­quit­tal was, “I feel good. God is with me.”

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