On July 27, 2019, Jason Issacs, then 23, armed with a sword, left his Mahaut, Campden Park home, for the home of fellow villager, Michael Browne, 36, with whom he had been having yet another argument for about an hour.
Earlier that same day, Jason’s stepfather had spoken to him when Jason was about to leave the yard to confront Michael, and Jason turned back.
But, sometime later, Jason, still carrying the sword, “just rolled out” to Michael’s home, and when he left, the sword had penetrated Michael’s body from the front, exiting at the back.
On receiving the fatal injury, Michael aka Jumbie Stick and Jaro, exclaimed “F**k boy!” and Jason pulled the bloody sword from Michael’s body and Michael collapsed on the floor.
Jason offered Michael no assistance but walked back to his home, where he told his mother, “Ma, you know Jaro run on to the thing.”
On Wednesday, after a trial lasting one week at High Court No. 1, a 12-member jury found Isaac not guilty of murder in connection with the killing.
Through their verdict, the jury indicated that they had accepted Jason’s version of events, that Michael had impaled himself on the sword when he charged at Jason as he was retreating.
Justice Brian Cottle presided over the trial in which Jason was presented by Counsel Kay Bacchus-Baptiste and Karim Nelson, an assistant director of public prosecution and Crown Counsel Maria Jackson-Richards appeared for the Crown.
Jason, was tried on a charge that on July 27, 2019, at Campden Park, with malice aforethought, he caused Michael’s death by an unlawful act.
At the trial, pathologist Dr. Ronald Child testified that Michael died as a result of a through-and-through stab wound to the chest, the only injury he sustained.
The wound was oriented from 10 to 4 o’clock and went through the apex of the heart, through both ventricles and then through the back.
The pathologist said the wound would have been caused by a sharp-edged pointed weapon but he did not think a cutlass would have been the weapon as a cutlass has a curve.
The use of a sword would be consistent with the injury, Dr. Child told the court.
He said that if a sword was used to inflict the injury, the force needed would be at least moderate.
Child was asked if it was possible for injury to be caused by someone running into and impaling themself on a sword and he said yes.
He further said it was possible for the injury to result from someone running onto someone close by who was holding the sword.
The accused man’s account
Jason mounted the stand in his own defence. He spoke of his upbringing, saying he used to attend Pembroke Pentecostal Assembly, played football and cricket at school and knew Michael from childhood.
He told the court that Michael was not a good person and had threatened to kill his (Isaac’s) family members one by one.
The defendant spoke of an occasion when he said he was coming from a party one night when Michael jumped out from behind a bread and cheese fence and stabbed him twice. Jason said that his brother, Elvis, ran and left him behind.
He said he went home and did not get treatment for the injuries nor did he report it to the police. He went to Buccament the next morning. There was bleeding from the wounds and he has scars, he told the court.
The accused man said he had heard that his mother had had an altercation with Michael, who had tried to rape her and that she had reported this to the Questelles Police Station. He said that Michael had also tried to rape his sister.
Jason testified that on the day of the incident, he was at home when he heard Michael cursing, saying he would kill Jason’s family one by one.
They live about 100 feet away from each other, he said, adding that he lives on one hill and Michael on another.
The cursing went on for about an hour and he could hear it from his home, Jason told the court, adding that other people could hear, and, among other things Michael accused him of “brushing” (having sex with) his own mother.
He said he took up his sword and was going to warn Michael, knowing who he was, but his step father spoke to him.
Jason told the court that he sat down when his stepfather spoke to him, but later “rolled out still”.
He said Michael told him, “Come over to get dead now. You, Jason, come let me kill you nuh.”
The defendant told the court that Michael was speaking angrily and when he went into the road, he heard Michael threatening to kill his mother.
He said he walked toward Michael, who was “backing back” (moving away backwards).
Jason said that when he got to the house, Michael was saying, “Come up. Come up” and did not go into the house.
The defendant told the court that he knows Michael’s niece, “Sunshine” but did not see her. “She was not there,” he later said.
‘I raise the sword and he ran into it’
Jason said Michael had a screwdriver and scissor and ran into him. “He jump on me. I raise the sword and he ran into it,” the defendant told the court.
He said he did not want to get arrested so he left the scene.
The defendant further told the court that Michael and his (Michael’s) sister, Eden Browne did not get along.
He said Michael used to curse Eden and broke things at the house, adding that Sunshine knows this as she lives at the house. Other witnesses, however, said that the child did not live at the house.
Jason noted that Eden had testified that she was trying to hold him. He, however, said he lost control.
“Is as if Eden was not there,” Jason said.
The judge, in summing up the evidence, said that could be an indication of Jason’s frame of mind at the time, adding that it was possible that Sunshine was there also.
Jason said he turned to leave the yard and as he did so, Michael tried to run into him so he held up the sword.
During cross examination, Jason told the court that what he had described as Michael cursing was in fact an argument. He said that Michael told him things and he did the same to Michael.
He, however, said he did not tell Michael hurtful things.
Jason agreed that he was speaking loudly to Michael, telling him to stop calling up his and his mother’s names.
He said Michael bragged about stabbing him.
Asked if it had taken Michael an hour to say those things, Jason said yes.
He said the distance between him and Michael was about seven footsteps and when he approached Michael, he (Michael) “back back and went up in his house.
“At first he stopped,” Issacs told the court.
He said that Michael was at Michael’s home and he went there to warn Michael, even though he admitted that both he and Michael could have heard each other from where they were initially.
Jason testified that Michael would just meet him and do things to him and his family.
He said Eden did try to hold him back and that he told the police he went over to Michael’s home to show him he was not afraid of him.
Jason told the court he did not know that the sword had gone all the way through Michael’s body and he heard this in court from the pathologist.
Jason said it was not true that he wanted to take matters into his own hands. He said that at one point he had spoken to Chambers about Michael’s behaviour, telling the officer that Michael was provoking him.
He said that when he went up to the door, Michael was inside his house but the door was open.
Jason said he had the sword down at his side and told Michael to stop harassing him. The distance between them was such that he could have reached out and touched Michael.
“So, he went up to a man who had been threatening to kill him. This man who had been carrying a scissor and screwdriver and he was within touching distance of him,” the judge commented.
Jason said that his frame of mind that day was that he wanted to show Michael that he was not afraid of him.
He said he did not tell the police that when Eden tried to hold him he was out of control and that he was saying this in court for the first time.
It was suggested to Jason that he was not out of control and knew exactly what he was doing.
However, the defendant said that was not the case.
Jason told the court that he had been drinking that morning, was drunk, and could remember some of what happened.
He said the story he gave is part of what happened as he could not recall all of it.
Jason agreed that Michael was in his home and that a man who was in his home would have in his hands whatever he wanted.
Jason denied being the aggressor, although he said Michael was moving back as he (Jason) was walking towards him.
“He was backing back. He stopped and pushed me,” Jason said. He agreed that Michael could defend himself from a man with a sword on his property.
“I was wrong to go over there but Michael had screwdriver and scissors in his hand, saying come in, come in let me kill you,” Jason told the court.
He said he had seen Michael’s criminal record and when Michael did wrong things he was taken to court and punished. Jason said he did not act as judge, jury and executioner in the matter involving him and Michael.
He told the court that if he wanted to kill Michael he could have done so when Browne pushed him.
Jason said that he did not kill Michael and his death was caused by the sword.
He said that by “outta timing”, he meant “how he getting on”.
He said that the door was visible from the pipe and the incident happened right by the door.
‘He too outta timing’
Meanwhile, detective Sergeant Biorn Duncan told the court that about 15 minutes after he got to the scene, Jason came to the police and identified himself.
Duncan told him of the report made against him and cautioned him in the presence of Inspector Ellis.
“He too outta timing. I fed up ah he. I go after he with my sword. He pull a screwdriver after me, I hold out the sword and he ran into it.”
Duncan took Jason to the Major Crime Unit’s office and reminded him that he was still under caution.
Jason repeated what he had said and Duncan wrote it down and invited Jason to sign it, which he did. Duncan signed also
They went back to the scene and Jason pointed out a field of elephant grass. The police searched the grass but did not find anything.
The following day, Jason agreed to take them back to the scene. They went along with Justice of the Peace Errol Hazel.
Duncan cautioned Jason and asked him, in the presence of the justice of the peace, if anyone had beaten, threatened or offered him anything while in custody.
Jason said no. Duncan later handed over the investigation to detective Philbert Chambers.
In the electronic interview with police, Jason said he had gone to the shop and when Michael saw him coming up, “he bawling oh you mother this. I killing all ah you one by one and how he brushing me mother”.
He said he got vex and started to curse Michael and got vex and went over to Michael’s house.
Michael came out with a screwdriver and “I just tek me sword and hold it up and stick him and then he sister bawling “O God, them kill me brother.’
And that was it. I just leave over there,” Jason said in the interview.
The police asked Jason for details and he said Michael was cursing all five of them.
He told Duncan that when Michael told him he was “brushing” his (Jason’s) mother, he did not feel any way.
“I just tell him, boy don’t tell me them things. I don’t tell you them thing.”
Jason said he got vex and Michael “hype up” and he went over by Michael with the sword in his hand.
He said he had gotten the sword from Buccament Bay and that before going over to Michael’s he had taken the sword from his bedroom.
He said it would take him 20 minutes to walk the shortcut to Michael’s house and would have taken longer had he taken the longer route.
Asked why he left his home with the sword, Jason told the detectives he was “fed up of him cursing me”.
“What was your purpose in leaving with the sword?” Duncan asked.
“I didn’t go over there to kill him. I go over there to warn him but he ran up on me. I just point the sword and he run up on the sword,” Jason responded.
‘To show him I ain’t fraid him.’
He said when he got there he and Michael were arguing. Michael was coming down and he was coming up.
Jason said Michael told him, “‘You come over here to get dead now. I killing all of you one by one.’
“And then he try to jump on me. I hold up the sword and he got chook. I didn’t know he been going dead.”
He said he threw the sword in the bushes he had been chopping down because it had blood on it.
“Why throw it away because blood was on it?” Duncan asked.
“Just throw it away,” Jason responded.
Duncan, however, noted that the blood could have been washed from the sword.
“I just throw it away. I did think about washing it off; wash my foot too,” Jason said, adding there was blood on his foot also.
Chambers asked Jason if Michael was outside when he got to the house.
“No. He run back up and said, ‘Come up. Come up. Come leh we back it out up here.'”
Issacs said Micahel had a screwdriver and scissors in his hand and walked backward to the house and entered the house before Jason, but did not try to close the door.
He said he did not go straight towards Michael but said to himself, “Let me come go out of here because you want me to come get lock up.”
Jason said Michael tried to jump on him and he just held the sword and Michael jump on it.
Asked why he had gone towards Michael with the sword knowing Michael had an object in his hand, Jason said, “To show him I ain’t fraid him.”
He said that when Michael ran into the sword he (Jason) “just pulled it back”.
Jason said he felt “wrong” knowing Michael had run into the sword but he did not try to help him because when he pulled out the sword, Michael’s sister came up and told him to get out the yard.
In the interview, Jason said he also did not get someone to help Michael. He said he was just vex with himself too.
In cross examination, Duncan denied taking advantage of the accused because he did not have a lawyer.
He said Jason cooperated and was respectful in tone. The detective, however, said he could not say if Jason cooperated fully because he did not know what else Jason could have said.
Duncan said he did not investigate if Michael had been saying things to the accused because he had handed over the investigation to Chambers, who completed the investigation and charged the accused.
He said that Jason had said that Michael had stabbed him and perhaps the police should have looked into it. The detective said neither he nor Chambers checked to see if Jason had a scar.
Duncan denied knowing that Michael was a dangerous man. He said he could not say how he would have reacted were he in Jason’s position.
No screwdriver or icepick found on scene
Corporal of Police Raycon John, a crime scene specialist, testified that he went to the scene after receiving information from Duncan.
The scene of the killing was “a one-story building”, the upper floor of which was wooden and the ground level concrete.
John said he walked through the scene and went to the upstairs of the house and saw a male lying motionless two feet from the door.
He observed blood on the body and clothing and bloodstains on the inside of the house and floor.
John said the house looked rumpled with clothing strewn on the floor. There was a wooden partition.
John photographed the scene and returned the following day and took some other photos of areas that Jason pointed out to him.
The detective testified that the officers who were part of the team searched an area where Jason told them he had thrown the sword. They took cutlasses and cut down the grass but found nothing.
John also went to Jason’s home and took photographs of his bedroom.
He said that to get to Issacs’ home, from where Michael was found dead, he walked through a shortcut that was about 600 feet long.
During cross examination, John said Chambers, who is now deceased, was the officer who was first investigating the killing, but Duncan also played an important part in the investigation.
“But I don’t know how many witnesses police took statements from,” John told the court.
He said he knew Michael and had encountered him on several occasions and knew that he had several convictions.
John said he did not know whether Jason had made several reports against Michael nor that Michael had stabbed Jason in the side a week before his death.
The detective further told the court that he did not know that Brown had broken into Issacs’ mother’s home and tried to rape her or that Michael has been convicted for indecently assaulting a woman by touching her on her vagina and breasts.
John agreed that when he revisited the scene with Jason, the accused man had no lawyer.
He said he did not know if the sword had subsequently appeared.
The detective further said he did not know if Michael had broken into a man’s house and tried to rape the man’s niece.
He said he arrived at the scene around 1:30 p.m., about an hour after Duncan had spoken to him.
The officer further told the court that he did not recall seeing a cutlass, screwdriver or ice pick at the scene.
When asked, John said he was not looking for any of those implements.
He said he did not speak to witnesses before walking through the crime scene, as he did not want anyone to tell him what was there as he wanted to see for himself.
‘He killed my brother right in the house’
Testifying for the Crown, Eden, said she was at home on the day in question and her daughter, Shana Browne aka Sunshine was at the pipe.
She said Jason came up into their yard carrying a sword in his hand. She was trying to stop him by holding on to him but Jason got away from her and “he do what he had to do”.
The sister of the deceased man said Jason’s brother and stepfather were nearby but did not assist her when she was trying to prevent Jason from coming into the yard.
The woman testified that when Jason came into the house, her brother was upstairs of the house, which has a three-part door, two of which are at the top.
“I saw when he do so with the sword,” she said and demonstrated, adding that Michael was in front of the door when he was impaled.
She said Jason pulled the sword and her brother “dropped flat”.
Eden told the court that she heard her brother say, “F**k boy” and Jason then walked back from where he had come with the sword in hand.
She said she ran up the same time and when she got to where her brother was lying, he was gasping.
Eden said she held her brother and did not see him with anything in his hands. When Jason pushed the sword, her brother was in the house and she heard him fall.
Eden testified that her brother had been speaking earlier in the morning “and over on the other side pick him up”.
She told the court that Jason and his stepfather live on the other side of the hill and she could hear Jason, his brother and stepfather saying “Come over.”
Michael, in response, said, “You come over.”
She said that at one point Michael was upstairs at his window facing down the road.
Thuggy, Jason’s stepfather, had a “choppy” (cutlass) in his hand and Jason came later, Eden told the court.
“He killed my brother right in the house, in front the door.”
She told the court that she knows Jason as he grew up in the village and it was not the first time that he and her brother were cursing each other.
She said Thuggy was coming up with the choppy and apparently did not know she was at home. She pushed out the door and told Thuggy, “Don’t study him. Is so he does carry on.”
‘Alyo mother day with a young boy’
During cross examination Eden said she gave a statement to the police on the day of the incident in which she said her brother had been arguing with Thuggy for a good while.
She, however, did not agree that she had said that the argument lasted for an hour.
Thuggy, Lando, Jason and Michael were there and Shana was at the pipe, Eden said, adding that she could hear what was happening.
She said that Shaggy, her other bother, was there but is “not right in his head”.
She agreed she had said earlier that Michael never came out the house. She, however, later said that this was not true. The witness also said she could not remember where Shaggy was and did not remember an incident where Michael threw hot tea on Shaggy.
Eden agreed that she testified at the magistrate court that Michael was “making usual stupid noise”.
She said her brother said, “Alyo dey with old woman. Alyo mother day with a young boy.”
Asked if she heard her brother saying that Jason was “brushing” (having sex with) his own mother or that he (Michael) was “brushing” Issacs’ mother, Eden said no.
She also said it was not true that her brother had threatened to kill the Isaacs family members one by one.
The witness denied trying to hide the sequence of what happened and said she did not leave out things.
She told the court she couldn’t recall mentioning Shaggy but said he was around and when Jason came over. Orlando was sitting on a stone.
Eden told the court she did not see her brother curse Shaggy and throw a cup of hot tea on him.
She said that when her brother saw Jason coming, he went into the house.
Eden testified that she did not hear her brother say “Alyo have to dead over there” nor did he have an ice pick.
She said she did not hear him say “Alyo mother dey with a young boy”. However, when her statement at the magistrate’s court was put to her, Eden agreed that she had said this to the magistrate
She further told the court that she did not hear Michael say that the Isaacs brothers were having sex with their mother.
She also said she did not know that her brother had tried to rape Jason’s mother or sister, nor could she recall her brother stabbing Jason in the side or bragging that he didn’t know how Jason did not die as a result of the stab.
Eden further said it was not true that Issacs had warned Michael to stop interfering with his family or that Michael had said that his (Michael’s) crew was the biggest in Campden Park.
The witness said she did not remember an incident in which Michael had thrown stones at Jason’s home.
She said Michael did not have an icepick in his hand nor a cutlass in his waist. He was far from the Isaacses and did not go into the public road with a cutlass.
She said that Michael did not try to get Olando to leave Vivian “I-Come” Miller’s yard.
Eden further testified that she did not remember Michael had been attacking the Isaacses for two years, but knew they were not getting along.
She said she did not remember Michael saying it is luck that Jason had not died and he would stab him again and kill him.
She said she told her brother to go into the house and close the door not because he was issuing threats but because she saw Jason coming with the sword.
Eden told the court that she came out of the house and tried to hold Jason back but he was bareback and managed to get away.
She said she held on to his boxer but he did not study her, the woman told the court, further stating that in her mind, Jason had his mind made up.
She said her brother did not push or try to stab Jason, neither did he lunge at him.
She said Michael was pushing in the door and Jason was pulling it so that only “a little piece” of the deceased was outside.
“Jason ram the sword through his body, dead man on the spot,” Eden told the court.
She said she put her brother’s feed inside the house but did not move any icepick.
She said she thinks that she had told the police she had put his foot inside and the police had said that was not a problem.
Eden further testified that when her brother fell on his back after being stabbed and she was trying to hold him up — just his head.
She told the court that her brother “had his way; he would give me stress but he was my bother. I still love him. He was a good person who did not deserve that.”
Child says Jason held and stabbed Michael with sword
Shana Browne, Eden Browne’s daughter and niece of the deceased testified that she was at home washing when her uncle came up from the shop and was at the window talking loudly.
Shana, who was 11 years old at the time, said she “heard others pick him up.
“It was Jason, Lando and they mommy boyfriend, ‘Thuggy’,” she said, adding that they were telling Michael to come down out of the yard.
Jason told Michael to come down, the child told the court, adding that Jason had a sword in his hand and was trying to go after her uncle.
She said Jason came into the yard and her uncle ran inside and pulled in the bottom part of the door.
Shana told the court that Jason held her uncle by his neck and pushed the sword through him and pulled the sword back out, and he walked away with blood dripping from the sword.
She said her mother was in the yard and Jason was laughing as he was going down.
The judge told the jury that if they accept this evidence it might help them to determine what Jason’s intentions were.
The witness said her uncle had nothing in hand when Jason pushed the sword into him.
She said he was trying to close the door.
Shana told the court that when Jason first came up, her mother was trying to hold him back and telling him to stop but was unable to do that.
During cross examination, she said that in her view her uncle was a good, law-abiding person who misbehaved sometimes. She said he used to smoke a lot of weed.
The witness said she could not remember telling the police that Michael had pushed Jason. She, however, agreed, when shown, that it was in her statement.
Shanna said she did not see any icepick, scissors or cutlass in Michael’s waist.
She was unable to remember what her uncle or Jason were saying to each other.
When asked, Shana said her uncle was not in the yard arguing with Lando. She, however, agreed, when shown, that it is in her statement to the police.
She told the court she could not say for how long the argument went on but said that at one point Michael was upstairs at the window arguing.
Said she saw her mother trying to move her uncle’s body — trying to move up his head. His legs were not outside.
The witness said that on that morning she could hear Jason coming over the hill cursing.
She was asked about the push she had spoken to police about. Shana said she could not remember if it was heavy.
She further could not recall her uncle saying he had stabbed Jason and he was lucky he did not die nor did she remember him saying his crew is largest in Campden Park.
The witness said her uncle did not rush Jason with scissors and push him. She said it was not true that Jason raised the sword and Michael ran into it.
Stories of alleged rape attempt
Also testifying for the defence was Nicole Isaacs, the accused man’s sister.
Nicole said she had been hearing stories that Michael had tried to rape her.
She said that one night, several years ago, she was in her room and it was raining. She heard the window crack like someone lifted it open and jumped onto the bed.
Nicole said she was not alone as a man was there and the man said, “Yow!” and Michael went back over into his yard.
The witness said that Michael attacked her before, meaning he came right on her bed.
She said he did not try to rape her but, in her mind, that is the only reason he had done what he did.
There was no report made to the police, Nicole told the court, adding that she thought that the gentleman who was with her had made a report.
She said that on the morning of the killing, she was not at home. She was in Kingstown shopping.
Alleged offer to pay for sex
Venice Isaacs, Jason’s mother, testified of an incident where Michael “attacked” her by climbing up by her window and offering to pay her for sex.
She spoke of an incident that had allegedly occurred 20 years earlier when Michael had climbed up on her window and she told him to go down. He asked why and she told him to go down.
The woman said she was going to cut off his fingers but decided to spray him with insecticide instead.
Venice told the court that Michael would wait for her after work, hold on to her hand and told her that her son was “brushing” her and why she was not giving him some.
She said she asked for a change of shift and he would still meet and ask her for her telephone number. Venice further testified that she often told her children about the harassment.
She said that when the incident with Jason occurred, he had been drinking the night before and after.
“They were cursing. He had said he would kill them all. Thuggy was there. Jason was telling Michael come over here and Michael was saying the same.”
While this was going on, she went inside to make breakfast. The cursing was going on still and then she heard Eden scream out.
Venice told the court that Michael was a bad man, his mother and sisters would run from him, and he was always beating up Shaggy.
She said Jason came over to him and said, “Ma, you know Jaro run on to the thing.”
The children were little when Michael climbed up on the window. Nicole was about 6. Venice said when she reported it to the police, they made a joke of it and asked her why she did not bring fingers.
The mother testified that on the morning of the incident, Jason was drunk but he went over there to tell Michael not to call his mother’s name.
Venice told the court Michael told Jason, “Come over. Ah go kill yo mother this.”
She was apparently using a sanitised version of a very common by extremely offensive Vincentian swear word.
She did not tell her children to stop because they would always be cursing, Venice said. She went inside to prepare breakfast and that is when she heard him scream.
When Jason returned, she did not say Michael chopped him. All he said was that Michael “run into the thing”.
The mother said there was no ongoing dispute because her sons and Michael and she had advised Jason to report the matter to the police.
Olando had a matter in court but Jason did not follow her advice, she said.
The mother said that she gave the police a statement the day after the killing.
Asked if she remembered telling the police that when Jason came back he had a cutlass or a sword, Venice he said no. However, when shown the statement she said she had said so.
Venice told the court that Jason told her he had “chook” Michael but did not know if he was dead.
Jason told her that Michael had a cutlass, a screwdriver, a scissors, the woman said.
Neighbour dismissed quarrel, returned to his movie
Vivian “I-Come” Miller also testified for the defence, saying he did not see what happened but Michael had a reputation of being a bad man.
He said that Michael had dashed on Shaggy the hot tea he was drinking
Miller told the court that he paid Michael no mind as he was cursing.
“I went back and watched my movie,” he said, adding that the argument continued outside but he did not study them.
“What was going on was normal,” Miller said, adding that Michael and Jason were always cursing.
He said Michael said Jason was having sex with his own mother who was with a young man.
Miller said he later learnt that Michael died but did not see what happened.
Michael was definitely a troublemaker and the villager would have nothing good to say about him, Miller said.
He told the court that Shana lives in Chauncey and would visit her mother but he did not keep track of when she would come.
Michael was always threatening to kill and, on that day, there was bad John talk from both men, Miller said, adding that Michael was a menace to society.
When asked, he agreed that bad men need justice too.