'Lier' on stand, murder trial told


Nov 26, 2007 01:17 PM

Staff Reporter

A key Crown witness in a murder trial has told so many lies that jurors can't possibly know when he's telling the truth, a defence attorney said today.

"How are we as mere mortals to know when you're telling the truth or when you're lying to save your backside?" defence attorney Robert Nuttall asked Andrew Brown today in a Brampton courtroom.

"Does a halo suddenly form over your head?"

Brown, 20, is now on the stand for a fourth day in the trial of three men accused in the Oct. 9, 2004 slaying of Youhan Oraha.

Jahmar Welsh, 24, his stepbrother Evol Robinson, 22, and Ruben Pinnock, 22, have pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder.

Oraha, 22, of Woodbridge was shot dead in a hail of bullets in the parking lot of a Brampton highrise as he walked to his car with his girlfriend, who wasn't hit.

Brown has now admitted being at the scene of the deadly shooting - and knowing some details about the involvement of the accused - but he never actually saw Oraha being shot to death.

At least 28 bullets were fired at Oraha, 14 striking him, mostly in the back in what prosecutors Steve Sherriff and Cam Watson say was a revenge killing.

They say the accused believed Oraha was responsible for the still unsolved drive-by shooting death on Highway 401 of their friend Shemul Cunniningham about a month before Oraha was ambushed and slain.

Jurors know that Brown lied repeatedly to police and his parents about what he knew. He initally suggested first he heard shots while at a bus stop and saw several people running away but then later told police he drove to the Lisa St. apartment with Robinson, thinking a drug deal was taking place and caught in total surprise when gunfire errupted.

Admitting on the stand under cross-examination that he still feared he would be charged with murder depending on whether he told the truth at this trial - he now says Robinson told him afterwards that his brother asked him for a gun.

He also said Robinson told him the dead man was the same person who killed Cunningham when they watched the story on CITY Pulse news that night.

But Nuttall, who is defending Welsh, today got Brown to admit he was a "good liar" and suggested an emotional interview with police, played before jurors, was "a great performance" and that he was person capable of creating lies filled with "rich" detail.

"It is impossible for anyone watching (the interview) to tell if you're lying or telling the truth," Nuttall suggested to Brown, who admitted his assessment was true.

Nuttall suggested Brown had to come up with a story because police believed he knew more about the homicide and would charge him with being involved in the Oraha slaying if he didn't give them a more plausible scenario.

"You were caught in a web of lies and you had to keep telling lies to save yourself," Nuttall suggested.

Welsh's attorney also suggested Brown told others he had been there when the shooting took place in order to make himself seem like a "big guy" among his new circle of friends.

But Brown denied he told others about what he knew and insisted he was telling the truth about what Robinson told him several hours after the slaying.

In his testimony last week, Brown said neither him nor Robinson ever knew in advance that Oraha was going to be killed when they drove to the apartment. He also insisted Robinson didn't know there was a gun in the car until his stepbrother asked him for it.

By then, Brown, under orders from Welsh, had got out of the Cavalier and into a van with Pinnock, whom he barely knew.

Welsh is alleged to have been one of three gunmen. Robinson is alleged to have brought a gun to the scene and acted as the getaway driver. Pinnock is alleged to have acted as the lookout.

Police have never identified the other two shooters.

Despite the Crown's theory of the slaying, Brown has insisted none of his friends ever spoke of seeking revenge for Cunningham's murder and that Robinson never said there was a gun in the car or they were on their way to commit murder when they drove to the Lisa St. apartment.

The trial continues this afternoon before Justice Terrance O'Connor.