By: Precious Mills
BASSETERRE, St.Kitts (Thursday 26th October, 2017)– Magdalene Hazel, the mother of 25-year-old Jahari Bart who is currently serving a life imprisonment sentence for the 2011 murder of Jamie ‘Big Ship’ Williams, son of then Commissioner of Police Austin Williams, is publicly making a ‘Not Guilty’ plea on behalf of her son who recently wrote an over-350 word letter titled ‘Innocent Man’.
Hazel, during a sit-down interview with this media house, stated: “I’m carrying out this letter from my son. He write a letter and he want us (the family) to share it because he feel like he ain’t get a fair chance and he wanted to get a fair chance and to myself, I know my son ain’t get a fair chance because I know my son is innocent. He is innocent! Jahari Bart is innocent! They (police) pick him up from me house since he was 19 years old and say they only going to ask him some questions and bring him back home and up to now he didn’t return to my house! They have him lock up for now six years and he is innocent! I want him come home!”
In his letter, Bart talks about being “A young man plucked from the comfortable confines of his mother’s house and slammed with a murder charge I knew nothing about. Yet, in spite of 6 years of maltreatment and a guilty verdict I strive, optimistic with relation to my emancipation from 1840. Condemned to a life of incarceration, my name is Jabari Bart known in my hometown as a kind, helpful, warm-hearted and resilient young man.”
He also expresses that he has been “convicted without any substantial evidence whether D.N.A, eye witness account or weapon found in my possession. Like a lamb to the slaughter house my livelihood was totally disrupted…”
Additionally, Bart mentions having endured four (4) trials, two (2) mistrials and a hung jury.
According to his mother, in the beginning, Bart (who is her youngest son) was not supposed to be picked up from the family’s St. Johnston’s village in connection with that deadly shooting which, according to police reports took place on Wednesday 6th April 2011 at Buckley’s Estate at about 9:30 PM.
“On 10th April 2011 around after 2pm, 3 O’clock, I was in the bath. It was just me and Jabari home. On me way coming out de bath, I hear Jahari say ‘Mommy police, police!’ When you look, they done in me house!”
Hazel then informed that after searching her home and yard and not finding anything, the police officers then proceeded to leave her premises but then turned around to question Bart.
“Me and me son Jahari Bart were standing up by the door when they ready to go and as they going to the gate, they turn back. They asked him like this: ‘Where you brother have de guns?’ and he (Bart) say ‘Is oru have de guns, oru supposed to know way de be’.”
Hazel said after asking him his age and name “They say ok, ‘we going walk with you for some questions’ and with that they went out me house with me son Jahari Bart since the 10th April 2011 and he didn’t return to my house up to now!”
She added: “They were already going through the gate, they turn back; they didn’t going with him!”
On Wednesday 13th April 2011, Bart, along with his brother Kelroy ‘C Face’ Hazel who 22 years old at the time, were formally arrested and jointly charged for Williams’ murder.
In October 2015, Hazel’s (Kelroy) murder charge was discharged at the Basseterre High Court presided over by the trial judge Justice Marlene Carter following a no-case submission while on Monday 10th July this year, Bart was sentenced following a hearing presided over by court judge Justice Trevor Warde.
Asked what the mother-son conversations are usually like during visitations at the prison, Hazel cried saying: “When I speak to him, he say ‘Mommy I well want come home. I hate to see when you all come here and go left me’.”
“I bawl, I bawl. All he does tell me is ‘Mommy, I want you live to be there for me mommy, don’t heg yourself’. But sometimes I have to heg myself. Sometimes I have to bawl because my child going through something that he ain’t supposed to be going through and every time I go, he say ‘Mommy don’t cry, everything going be alright, God knows I’m innocent’.”
Wiping away tears streaming down her face, the emotional mother convinced of her son’s innocence declared: “Nobody going do something wrong and say God knows they are innocent!”
Commenting on what it was like for her having read the letter written by her son, she shared: “I cry, I cry, cry, cry! Even when people reading it, I cry, cry, cry! I read it over and over to see my child telling me what he going through; the pains that he feeling.”
As to what the family is hoping will be the outcome of publicly sharing the letter, Hazel in replying to the question posed in that regard said: “We (are) hoping that we would get a better justice, hoping they could give him a retrial, give him a fair chance, give him something he could tell himself well he experienced something but he can’t experience nothing with this situation. I wish they could just tell me child, ‘Bart you free to go home, you is a innocent man’.”
Clinging to her son’s ‘Not Guilty’ stance, she pointed out that her son is aware that because he is being held for a crime involving the death of a police commissioner’s son, he knows that he will not get off easy.
“Jahari told me, ‘Mommy, you know I’m going through this here, they ain’t going want let me go just so because is the Police Commissioner son but even if I get a 15 or 20 years, I could make out and appeal it. Imagine he tell me that!”
“Even that we (the family) were looking for even though we wanted him to come home but we know because it involve the commissioner son, they ain’t going want him come home so easy,” she said after bursting out in tears.
Hazel said there are plans to have both the sentence and conviction appealed.
Local attorney- at- law Chelsey Hamilton remains as the defense representative in this matter.
Lamenting further on the situation, Hazel told: “You think it easy? Me poor son ain’t live no life; never had a girlfriend, never had a child, nothing at all in life and have to be going through this! You don’t know how much I cry. Sometimes I’m at home in me bed and water running out my eyes all the time. Sometimes, I walking coming down town and my mind run on my child, water just coming out me eyes. Every time I go to see him, first thing I do is cry and he does say ‘Mommy don’t cry’ but sometimes I just can’t keep it!”