From Left: A tearful Lorna Choucoutou and her son, Michael Jack following the verdict on July 22, 2013.
Photo Credit: Melissa Edwards/BVI Platinum News
Lorna Choucoutou sat through the entire trial where one of her sons, Michael Jack was charged with the murder of her other son, Tishawn Henley.
"It was the most difficult thing I ever had to do in my life...but God is awesome...and I needed to be there for him [Jack]...," the tearful mother told members of the media following the not guilty verdict which was delivered by a nine member jury this afternoon, July 22.
At 4:01 pm today, the jury found Jack not guilty of murder and not guilty of manslaughter in the death of his 26 year-old half brother, Henley. The verdict was unanimous.
Henley was stabbed on November 6, 2012 at their mother's George's North Side home.
As the verdict was delivered, Jack's mother held on to him and they both knelt down and in tears repeatedly thanked God.
Jack thanked God, the jury and his lawyer, Stephen Daniels. He said God has given him a second chance to start over his life.
Meanwhile, lawyer Daniels said the case is not a victory as there are no winners or losers. He said the difficulty with the case for him was having to defend someone who allegedly murdered their brother.
Daniels said the case was one of clear self defence and the jury accepted that, hence their verdict.
The jury was given a choice by law to return a guilty or not guilty verdict of murder, or if they found that Jack was provoked by his brother prior to the stabbing, they could have returned a guilty verdict of manslaughter.
This morning into this afternoon, Justice Albert Redhead summed up the case to the jury before they retired to the jury room.
The Judge touched on several areas in his summation. He said to amount to murder, the killing must be malice; however, he said it does not necessarily mean premeditation.
"...The law does not require the accused to have that intention to be a long standing intention. In other words, the intention does not have to exist long before the incident. That intention could be formed at the spur of the moment."
Speaking on intention, the Judge said no one can positively prove anyone's state of mind. He said they may infer one's intention based on the evidence given in court.
The Judge warned, only if they are satisfied so as to feel sure that Jack had that intention to kill or cause grievous bodily harm to Henley, can they find him guilty of the offense of murder.
He said if they have any doubt, they must acquit him.
At this point, the Judge turned to provocation, which will reduce the offense of murder to manslaughter.
"If you find that Jack was provoked then that would reduce the offence of murder to manslaughter and you will find him guilty of manslaughter and not murder."
He said where there is evidence on which they can find that the accused was provoked, whether by things done or said by the deceased, "to cause the accused to lose his self control, the question for you to determine is whether that provocation was enough to cause and did cause a reasonable man to do what the accused Michael Jack did; to stab the deceased."
The Judge added, "You have to decide whether the provocation was enough to cause and did cause Jack to do what he did that is to stab the deceased."
Justice Redhead said they will have to decide if by the deceased, wanting his antenna, pushing and punching Jack would have caused a reasonable man, Jack, to lose his self control.
The Judge also touched on accident and stated that if they say it was an accident, Jack will be not guilty of any offense and if they are satisfied that it was not an accident, then he will be guilty of murder or manslaughter.
Justice Redhead also spoke to self defense and told the jury that they can decide based on the circumstances of the case whether Jack was under attack and acted in self defense.
He said if they decide he was acting in necessary self defense, he is not guilty of any offence.
Jack was represented by lawyer Stephen Daniels and Prosecution by Principal Crown Counsel Tiffany Scatliffe and Prosecutor Leslie Ann Faulkner.
Article Published July 19, 2013 - Tishawn Contributed To His Own Demise; It Was An Impulsive Reaction - Lawyer
Attorney at law Stephen Daniels sought to show the jury that his client, Michael Jack was the peacemaker on the fatal afternoon of November 6, 2012 and it was the deceased that contributed to his own death.
Jack is charged with the murder of Henley, who died following a stab wound at their mother's George's North Side home on November 6, 2012.
During his closing address to members of the jury today, July 19, Daniels firstly acknowledged sadness that a life has been lost, but also commented that, "Tishwan contributed to his own demise; sorry I have to say this."
It is the prosecution's case that Jack stabbed his brother following an argument and a push was over an antenna. However, Jack has claimed that he was trying to leave the residence when he was barred by his brother, punched twice and it was his brother who ran into the knife.
Lawyer Daniels told the jury that the act by Jack was an impulsive reaction as he was trying to defend himself.
"It's our case that he took out the knife to defend himself in that impulsive reaction. They were close; he [Henley] got stabbed. No one saw what happened..."
He added, "An impulsive reaction from Michael after he was punched in his face is not malicious or spiteful...We are also saying the standard of malice has not been met. It was an impulsive reaction to the punch..."
The lawyer repeated that there was no intention on Jack's part to kill or inflict grievous bodily harm on his brother.
He argued that there was no evidence presented in court that Jack knew Henley was home and went there to kill him. He further argued that it was Henley's girlfriend Cacey Christopher who saw Jack and went to inform Henley.
"...Michael did not send a message with Cacey to tell Tishawn to come downstairs. He was the peacemaker, he was leaving..."
He added, "Mr. Jack did not call out Tishawn, I am here; no evidence of that. It was Cacey who told Tishwan that Michael is here...Is that somebody who came to kill or inflict grievous bodily harm?...He didn't call and say bad man is here."
Daniels said after Christopher told Henley that Jack was there, he went to confront Jack about the antenna.
"He [Jack] was going about his business...He [Henley] came downstairs; the bad man. Michael never invited him to come downstairs..."
He stated that had Christopher not tell Henley that Jack was there, there would not have been a court case today.
Daniels said Jack did the mannerly thing by trying to leave, which is consistent with his character.
"If Michael had intention to kill, why would he want to leave...Look at those words, 'you are not going anywhere'...He was leaving; is that an intention to kill or inflict grievous bodily harm..."
The lawyer said instead Henley, who was the one bigger in size, blocked Jack and punched him.
"Michael kept asking him to excuse me so I can go...I want peace...Is that a murderer...please bigger, stronger brother excuse me...The peacemaker didn´t touch him...Henley pushed him first..."
Daniels further told the jury that there was no evidence that Jack said any threatening language to Henley that he wanted to harm or kill him whilst he was being blocked.
"Michael was under attack and he used force...once he anticipated an attack he can defend himself...Not because Tishwan received a wound Michael is at fault."
He urged the jury to believe Jack's story about what took place and also how he got around to having the knife in his possession. He asked them to return a verdict of not guilty.
Stabbing Was No Accident
Meanwhile, Principal Crown Counsel Tiffany Scatliffe during her closing address said Jack intentionally pulled out a knife and stabbed his brother, and unfortunately the character of the deceased was dragged through the mud during the trial.
Scatliffe said they can rule out that the incident was an accident.
"Based on the behavior of the accused after the incident; this is your bother, he is accidentally stabbed, where are you going, why are you running from the scene, you are not going to help him...It's in response to a push he [Henley] was stabbed with a five inch wound on his skin and six and a half inches into the pumping chamber of his heart," she stated.
Scatliffe said Jack and his girlfriend, Shenice Lettsome, drove past Henley following the stabbing. "They passed him on their way and at no time did they stop and help him..."
The Principal Crown Counsel related that the worst part of the matter is that the character of the deceased was dragged through the mud in order to create justification for Jack's actions.
"In order for justification, Tishawn has been run through the mud so to speak. This case isn't about Tishawn and how he behaved in life. He is not here to defend himself; we are not here to blame him. He may have done things on the day, but what he did previously has nothing to with."
She added, "...He [Jack] had the intention to do it. The first thing you do when your brother push you is to pull a knife out of your pocket and stab him?"
She further told the jury that, "At no time did Henley do anything that would have caused his brother to lose control and stab him...In response to asking for an antenna and a push you get stab."
The prosecutor also touched on evidence given by prosecution witnesses. She said Forensic Pathologist Dr. Bruce Hyma said the injuries Henley sustained could not have been caused by someone running into a knife.
She also said Jack admitted to Henley's girlfriend, Christopher and a Detective that he stabbed his brother.
"He took that knife out and stabbed his brother. He pushed it into his brother. Dr. Hyma said that it [wound] was six and a half inches...Remember you were told how big Henley was; 240 pounds...It takes a lot of force to drive a knife into a man that size...If you get prick with a knife, you are going to stop, you are not going to walk into it until it gets six and a half inches into your body," she related to the jury.
In relation to Henley allegedly cursing in the yard after receiving the stab wound, Scatliffe said Dr. Hyma indicated that with such a deep wound, Henley would have died within a fraction of a minute.
"How could a man who was stabbed and be dying, be running up and down cursing and threatening to kill people. It's a matter for you to decide...He was dying when his brother left the scene..."
The Principal Crown Counsel urged the jury not to have sympathy for anyone when deliberating on the evidence to arrive at a verdict.
"You are going to look at him [Jack], what a pleasant young man, dressed nicely. Don't let that distract you. Looks can be deceiving. You are not to have sympathy for him because of his looks, young children, or say oh lord the mother lost one son, she is going to lose another one...No sympathy for anyone...Look at the facts," she told the jury.
Scatliffe said the worst man in the world doesn't deserve to die at the hands of another.
"...Especially a six-inch wound...No one deserves to die like that...," Scatliffe lamented.
Justice Albert Redhead will sum up to the jury on Monday, July 22, followed by their verdict.
Earlier Article [July 19, 2013] - Jack Keeps His Silence; Girlfriend & Expert Testify In His Defence
As the prosecution closed its case yesterday, July 18, Michael Jack chose not to take the witness stand; however, he called two witnesses in his defence.
His girlfriend, Shenice Lettsome and a medical expert, Dr. Dawn Bain gave evidence. Bain will continue to give evidence this morning, July 19.
Jack is charged with the murder of his brother, Tishawn Henley, who died as a result of a stab wound. The incident occurred at their mother's George's North Side residence on November 6, 2012.
Principal Crown Counsel Tiffany Scatliffe led the prosecution's case called the last witness, Ghisslaine Hoogendijk.
When the crown closed its case, lawyer Stephen Daniels called Lettsome to the stand. She had accompanied Jack to his mother's residence on the fatal afternoon of November 6.
Lettsome confirmed that she gave police a statement in relation to the matter, but the crown never called her to give evidence in the trial.
The young lady, who has been in a relationship with Jack since 2010, said on November 6, 2012 she saw Jack at his Belmont, West End home around 8:00 am, after which he dropped her to work. She said he was driving her Grand Vitara.
The two then met up again for lunch around 1:00 pm and then around 5:00 pm.
She said in the afternoon, they made several stops before heading to George's North Side.
Once at George's North Side, Lettsome stated that Jack reversed up the driveway. The witness said she was not feeling well and Jack did not indicate the reason for visiting the home.
She related that Jack was happy on his way to the residence and never indicated that he was going to kill or stab anyone.
Lettsome told the court that Jack exited the jeep and went towards the back of the vehicle. "He didn't return to the vehicle, not until we were about to leave..."
The witness further stated that Henley came towards the vehicle while she was inside.
"He walked past and went where Michael was because Michael was at the back of the vehicle. I heard a slight argument."
She said she could not recognize what they were saying.
"It lasted about three minutes initially...Tishawn then came to the passenger door side. He knocked on the glass then he opened the door. He then said something to me. He then closed the door and then went back towards the back of the vehicle. Michael was still at the back of the vehicle as well."
She added, "Michael spent about a minute, after remaining at the back...Michael then came towards the driver door. At that point, Tishwan was standing there with him."
She further stated that she was not sure what Henley said, but Jack was asking him to "excuse" so he could leave. She said Henley didn't grant the request as he placed his left hand to block Jack from entering the vehicle.
"...Then I heard a bang against my vehicle. I then saw Michael on the ground...He [Tishawn] was covered in blood as he ran to the bottom of the hill. Michael got up and got in the vehicle. We then left," she said.
Lawyer Daniels asked Lettsome if she heard Jack utter words such as, "not this time, it wouldn't be like this" and the witness said no.
She also related that she didn't see anything in Jack's hands when he exited or re-entered the vehicle.
The lawyer asked the witness why she didn't inquire from Jack what happened when he return to the vehicle and they were heading to his West End home. Lettsome said she was afraid.
She stated that she fell asleep on their way to West End. It also came out in court that she was pregnant at the time and gave birth in June of this year.
The witness told the court that she spent about one minute at Jack's home before leaving. However, about 45 minutes later, Jack sent her a blackberry message about the death of Henley. She said she then went to his home.
"I then called him [Jack]. I then went to his residence. I stood by the bedroom door he came out to me and he then gave me a hug and a kiss. He said he will be ok and I must take care of myself," a weeping Lettsome stated in court.
She said after spending five minutes at his home, she returned home.
Meanwhile, Prosecutor Leslie Ann Faulkner conducted the cross examination and told Lettsome that based on her statement that Henley ran down the hill, it would have meant that they passed him on their way out.
"I don't recall seeing him there," Lettsome said.
She said Henley ran to the side of the embankment, but disagreed with Faulkner that they had to pass that section to exit the area.
Faulkner then asked the witness if at anytime Jack indicated that he wanted to see what was wrong with Henley and Lettsome said no.
"In fact he hurriedly got in his vehicle," Faulkner put to the witness, who said "yes".
Faulkner added, "In fact all Michael was concerned about is what Tishawn said to you." Lettsome replied, "That's true."
The prosecutor asked Lettsome if it never dawned on her that Henley may have needed some help and Lettsome said no. She said she was in shock from when the arguing started.
From Left: Lorna Choucoutou, Cacey Christopher and Michael Jack.
Photo Credit: Melissa Edwards/BVI Platinum News
The second witness was Dr. Bain, who spoke to the injuries sustained by Jack below his eyes. Jack alleged that his brother punched him twice during the incident.
Dr. Bain, who was shown the picture of Jack's injury, said there was a swelling of the inferior aspect of the orbit and a slight redness medial aspect of the left orbit against the nose.
She said with the redness, it appears that there was trauma.
"The wound does not appear to have a sharp edge laceration, so it looks like a blunt trauma...Yes it was a fresh trauma," she said.
Lawyer Daniels asked the doctor if a punch using a fist could have caused the trauma and the doctor said yes and noted that the fist would have to be clenched.
The lawyer then proceeded to show the doctor a picture of the fatal stab wound Henley received; however, the crown objected.
Daniels said he was not going to allow the doctor to interpret the internal injuries, but speak to the external.
The Judge then adjourned to this morning, when the legal minds are expected to debate the matter in the absence of the jury.
Meanwhile, the prosecution's last witness, Hoogendijk of George's North Side testified via video link earlier in the morning.
She said on the afternoon of November 6, 2012 she was driving home with her son and upon reaching the narrow corner leading to her home, she encountered a red vehicle.
"At the beginning of the corner, at that time I couldn't see what was coming around the corner. I started taking the corner and from the other side I see a red jeep coming next to me...It was driving faster than normally how someone would drive on that piece of road. It was a narrow road so you have to stop and decide who would go first so as to let the other pass," she told the court.
The woman said the driver of the jeep didn't stop it kept coming.
"It stopped last minute when we were very close and the person who was driving made hand signs to me that I need to get out the way, make way, get on the side. Because it's not what normally happens on the road. I felt pressured to move very fast. I reversed a little faster than what I would normally do."
She added, "I hadn't stopped my car fully, but the red jeep over took me and I heard a loud sound. I was shocked and scared because it's not what I was used to on that road. It was a brown person with braids; a male person driving...Someone between 20 and 30 years."
Hoogendijk said she kept driving and that is when she saw a male person with red stains on his shirt wobbling.
"I saw on my right hand side a male standing, he had a light coloured shirt and I saw red stains on the shirt. He was standing at the time; didn't see anyone else. I stopped my car and I said something to whether you need help, but the person took two wobbly steps and fell on his knee and then he fell sideways," she related to the court.
The closing arguments from the defence and prosecution will take place later today and Justice Albert Redhead will sum up to the jury on Monday. This will be followed by the jury's deliberation and a verdict.