Wells and Liddie, when they were 19 and 18 respectively, were in June 2017 charged with Leanna’s murder. Leanna disappeared without a trace in May of that year and more than a month later police were led to where her body was buried in the hills of Olivees.
A third youngster Ivan Chineyman Phillip then 19, was also charged with murder but saw that charge withdrawn. He pleaded guilty to accessory after the fact by helping to dispose of the body and was in September sentenced to 5 years and 8 months in prison.
Wells and Liddie pleaded not guilty to the charges faced, murder and perverting the course of justice. Wells was represented by defense attorney Chesley Hamilton and Liddie by attorney Natasha Grey.
Director of Public Prosecutions Valston Graham led the case for the prosecution assisted by Crown Counsel Teshaun Vasquez.
Following a week long trial, presiding Judge Justice Trevor Warde QC summed up the case for the jury on Friday.
The jury heard police evidence that Brandon had confessed to killing Leanna by repeatedly hitting her in the head with a hammer. That evidence came by way of a caution statement that police took from the accused after Leanna’s body was found. That statement was not signed by the accused, only by witnessing officers. According to the statement Brandon said he and Leanna had never gotten along and leading up to the killing, she was causing confusion, talking of taking control of the house he lived in, which had belonged to their deceased mother and so he had to get rid of her. he reportedly said she had come to the house on the fateful day to collect an iphone from him and while she was at the home, that’s when Liddie had held her in a choke hold and he struck her in the head with the hammer 5 times. Leanna’s body was reportedly left in the bathroom while Brandon began cleaning up the blood.
Brandon Lawyer challenged the statement, saying it was false and was concocted by police after a fourth individual involved in the crime had given police an account of what happened and led them to the body. Hamilton argued that there was no scientific evidence linking his client to the crime.
Liddie on the other hand, stood by a statement he wrote while in police custody. In that statement he said he came to the house and saw Leanna’s body on the floor, left to get cigarettes and came back and assisted with the clean up and disposal of Leanna’s body. He claimed he did so only because Brandon had threatened to kill him if he did not.
The jury heard evidence from the person who contacted police and led then to the body, a male who had been living at the house with Brandon. However that evidence came via a statement read to the jury as Edmeade left the jurisdiction in July of 2017 and was not present in court to be cross examined.
According to his statement Brandon had spoken of killing his sister months prior. On the day Leanna was killed, he said he heard a struggle inside the bathroom, pounding sounds and noise of a female gasping.
His evidence was that at some point he and Phillip left to go to Valumart to buy a mop and cleaning products and returned to the house.
Leanna’s body was wrapped in a large white plastic bag and then in a sheet.
Brandon, Liddie and Phillip reportedly took the body out of the house that night and put her in the back of a vehicle Brandon had borrowed and Edmeade drove it to where they buried the teen. They returned to the house finished cleaning up.
When police searched the house when they arrested Brandon, they collected pillowcases that matched the sheet Leanna’s body was buried in and a box of large white plastic bags.
Officers testified that when Brandon was questioned, he had spoken to a lawyer who told him not to sign anything but he later began crying and confessed.
Neither of the accused took the stand or called any witnesses.
Justice Warde warned the jury to approach the evidence with caution, advising that they had to determine the reliability of the evidence and consider the evidence against defendant separately. He pointed out that the Prosecution had relied mainly on the evidence of Edmeade and Liddie’s written statement, and the jury must consider if the admission were in fact made, and if they were true.
The jury took less than three hours to return verdicts of guilty on both counts for Wells and Liddie. Sentencing will be held in November.