The attorney for one of two men charged in the June 2007, murder of a Pennsylvania man in Cruz Bay has submitted a sworn affidavit from a man who claims “his girlfriend’s cousin” admitted to the attack and asked for a ride from the scene.
Accused murderer Kamal Thomas’s defense counsel will file the sworn statement in V.I. Superior Court from a witness alleging a man named Jahleel Ward attacked 21-year-old James Cockayne of Pennsylvania during the early morning hours of June 19, 2007.
“Defendant shall offer testimony tending to expose Jahleel Ward to criminal liability for the homicide charged in this case and exculpating Defendant (Thomas) of that homicide,” according to the pretrial memorandum sent to the V.I. Department of Justice which was to be filed with the V.I. Superior Court on Monday, May 12.
St. Croix Attorney Michael A. Joseph also sought information from the government on the “whereabouts of Jahleel Ward allegedly sent away by the People because of involvement in an unrelated case.”
Atty. Joseph first announced the existence of a new witness at a pre-trial conference in late April. The attorney could not be reached for comment on the memorandum or sworn affidavit from Glanville Frazer, Jr. which was dated October 11, 2007.
A copy of the affidavit provided to St. John Tradewinds includes details about how the alleged killer fled the scene of the crime and later threatened to “kill” anyone who said anything about his role in the fatal attack.
Awakened for Ride
Glanville Frazer Jr., said he drove the man he knew as his girlfriend’s cousin Jahleel to a house in Pastory after he and his girlfriend were awakened by banging on his door at 3AE Enighed, within sight of the scene of the fatal attack.
“When I opened the door, I saw Jahleel at the door,” Frazer said in the sworn affidavit. “He did not have on a shirt and he had small spots of blood on his pants.”
“He said ‘Shark, Shark can you give me a ride home please, I just f*** up a white boy’,” Frazer’s affidavit continued. “Jahleel then repeated ‘Please give me a ride home.’ I knew him to be my girlfriend’s cousin, and we have given him rides before, so it was not a problem to give him a ride.”
The pretrial memorandum from Atty. Joseph also identified two other people who will provide alibi witnesses for Thomas.
“Alexander Cameron; Jeremy Melanson will testify that they were at Hawks Nest Beach with Defendant and three girls as dates, who were visiting guests at the Westin Hotel, during the period of time James Cockayne was killed,” the pretrial memorandum said.
In addition, a third person, Jamal Jackson, will testify that he heard Ward admit to killing Cockayne, according to Joseph’s filing.
Thomas, an 18-year-old Georgia native, and Anselmo Boston, a 31-year-old St. Croix native, were arrested last summer after Cockayne’s family brought U.S. media attention to the murder.
Both men were charged with first-degree murder, first-degree assault, and using a dangerous weapon during the commission of a crime of violence. Thomas was also charged with witness intimidation relating to an incident in Cruz Bay before his arrest.
Still Under House Arrest
The two men remain under house arrest and terms of their bail should remain the same until the case goes to trial in early October before V.I. Superior Court Judge Brenda Hollar.
V.I. Police Department officials are investigating the new information, explained V.I. Attorney General Vincent Frazer.
“There have been allegations of there being a new witness that the defense has raised,” said Attorney General Frazer. “We are investigating.”
Justice Department officials still believe Boston and Thomas killed Cockayne, but have opened an investigation into the existence of a possible third accomplice, explained Attorney General Frazer.
“This new person who is mentioned as a witness may just point to another person who may have been involved,” the Attorney General Frazer said. “There may be a third person and we are following that lead. We are keeping the same charges against the same two men.”
“We don’t have any reason to change our position on that right now,” he added. “We’re still moving forward. We believe that we have the right persons.”
At the time of the murder, Cockayne had been on St. John for a month while he awaited paperwork from the British Virgin Islands for employment at the Bitter End Yacht Club in Virgin Gorda. Cockayne was set to be a sailing instructor at the yacht club.
On the evening of June 18, just hours before he was stabbed to death in front of the Fashion Palace, Cockayne got into a confrontation with Boston and Thomas at the Front Yard Bar, according to V.I. Police Department affidavits.
Boston allegedly broke a pool stick over Cockayne’s head before he and Thomas followed the young Pennsylvania man up the street and fatally stabbed him, according to police affidavits.
It remained unclear how the new information fits into Justice Department officials’ scenario of events the night of the murder.