The trial of Mitch Israel, 60, for murder in connection with the January 2020 shooting death of his wife, Arianna Taylor-Israel, at their son’s school continues today (Monday) at High Court No. 2, in Kingstown.
The prosecution is preparing to close its case, having called 27 witnesses, including both of the couple’s sons, as of Friday.
Taylor-Israel, a Cuba-born nurse who had been living and working in St. Vincent and the Grenadines since 2001, was gunned down outside St. Martin’s Secondary School about 3:30 p.m. on Jan. 30, 2020.
The couple’s elder son was a student at the school, located in Kingstown Park.
She died at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital — where she worked — about an hour after the shooting
On Friday, Matthew Israel, the couple’s son, shouted at defence counsel Linton Lewis as the lawyer cross examined him, resulting in Justice Rickie Burnet, who is presiding, suspending the sitting for a few minutes.
Lewis was asking the witness whether he recalled laughing at an alleged habit of one of his relatives.
“No,” the witness said.
“I am putting it to you that you used to laugh at your […] –” Lewis was saying, when the witness shouted, “Were you there? The same question you ask me, now, were you there?”
The court took a few minutes break and when the matter resumed, Lewis moved on from the question.
Later during the cross examination, Lewis asked Israel what he had meant when he said that a particular incident had occurred “a couple days” before his mother’s death.
“Do you mean ‘two’?” Lewis asked.
“’Couple’ doesn’t have an associated number,” Israel replied.
“We know ‘couple’ to mean two. Are you saying with you, couple –” Lewis was asking when Israel interjected, “Do you hear what you are asking me?”
At this point, the judge urged the witness to “try to hold together for a few minutes”.
Lewis continued his cross-examination, saying, “If you see two persons together who are married, would you say they are a couple?”
The witness, however, repeatedly said, “it was a couple days” even as Lewis was speaking.
There was protracted silence after the question. Israel did not answer.
The judge said “yes” and Lewis said the same thing and moved on.
Lewis then asked Israel to estimate the time when he said he had heard a particular sound on the day of his mother’s death.
“If you were listening, you would have heard I said I approximate it to be after 3 or after 4,” Israel responded.
“And I was listening because I heard you say after 3 going to four.”
At this point, Crown Counsel Richie Maitland, one of the prosecutors, stood and asked the court “for the benefit of” but sat down again without completing the sentence.’
As the cross examination continued, Lewis asked Israel another question.
“You should ask him,” the witness said, apparently referring to his father, the accused. “.. You didn’t think of asking him?”
“I am asking you the questions and you are to answer them. I am trying to be very civil with you,” Lewis told Israel, his voice slightly raised.
Lewis asked Israel another question and the witness responded, “No. You just ask stupid questions.”
“Or is it that I don’t ask the question that you like me to ask? Don’t you think you are being very unruly in the courtroom?”
“You are the one having arguments,” Israel responded.
“Are you aware that I am supposed to ask questions of you?” Lewis said.
The witness did not respond.
Lewis asked Israel if he (Israel) had answered questions from him (the lawyer) before in another court — an apparent reference to the preliminary inquiry.
Israel also did not respond.
“Matthew, are you going to answer the question?” Lewis said.
“No. I am not answering you,” the witness responded.
At this point, the judge said, “Matthew, you are not answering Dr. Lewis. Counsel is asking you questions but your answers are to me.”
The witness then said he did not answer any questions in a court before.
Lewis said he had no more questions and the prosecution also declined re-examination.
The prosecution team is headed by Director of Public Prosecutions Sejilla McDowall while Lewis is joined by his daughter, Maffica Lewis.