Public pressure led to murder charge, says Rushawn Patterson’s lawyer

FREEPORT, St James — Michelle Thomas, the attorney representing Rushawn Patterson who was on Friday charged with murder in the strangulation death of social media influencer Aneka “Slickianna” Townsend, insists the police have merely bowed to public pressure in moving forward with the case.

“Now that he is charged, the defence can now come together. They [police] are entitled to do what benefits their professional work and we will have to do what is in his interest and be guided by his constitutional rights to defend himself. So, let it begin,” Thomas told the Jamaica Observer.

Earlier in the day, Superintendent Vernon Ellis, who is in charge of the St James Police Division, announced on social media that Patterson had been charged, ending days of speculation. The Hanover man, who is also known as “Chizzie”, was taken into custody on November 2 and later slapped with assault charges in connection with a case from 2018. Lawmen questioned him about the Townsend case on Tuesday.

On Friday, the police said footage from the JamaicaEye CCTV network and forensic evidence gathered during a high-level investigation across several teams within the Jamaica Constabulary Force helped them gather enough evidence to charge the 33-year-old with murder. Also charged in connection with the case is 47-year-old security guard Rohan “Early B” Rose. He is charged with misprision of a felony, an accusation that he was either involved in the matter and/or failed to notify the authorities.

According to the timeline laid out by the police, Townsend travelled from Kingston to Montego Bay on October 20. She was seen with Patterson at a Hanover restaurant and a guest house in St James.

“At some point during in the night an argument developed between them, which resulted in Patterson strangling… Townsend and disposing of her body,” said Friday’s statement from the police.

Townsend’s scantily clad body was retrieved from the sea in Reading, between St James and Hanover on October 21.

The police are trying to establish whether Patterson has committed other offences.

“Investigations are ongoing as it is suspected that… Patterson may have been involved in other incidents similar to those for which he has been charged. As a result, detectives are appealing to the public for any information that may assist in the investigation. Persons may contact the Montego Bay CIB at 876-684-9080, Crime Stop at 311, police emergency at 119 or the nearest police station,” the press release said.

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