State prosecutors have to complete the evidence of one more witness before they close their case against two men accused of murdering six-year-old Sean Luke as teenagers.
The State was expected to close its case against Richard Chatoo and Akeel Mitchell during a virtual hearing before Justice Lisa Ramsumair-Hinds yesterday but was unable to so because its last witness retired Sgt Alexis Garcia could not go to the Judiciary’s Virtual Access Customer Centre in Princes Town to testify remotely.
Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Sabrina Dougdeen-Jaglal explained that Garcia’s son, who lives with him and is also a police officer, was quarantined and awaiting his results from a COVID-19 test. She claimed that once his son receives his results and is cleared he (Garcia) would be able to complete his role in the case.
During yesterday’s hearing, Ramsumair-Hinds moved to incorporate the evidence of retired Cpls Rodney Mohammed and Azam Hamid, the State’s 36th and 37th witnesses in the case, who testified previously during pre-trial applications in the case. Mohammed, a former homicide detective, was tasked with the responsibility of taking Chatoo to the washroom, while he was being detained in connection with Luke’s murder. He also claimed that Chatoo had asked to speak with him and tell him “what had really happened to Sean.”
While being cross-examined by Chatoo’s lawyer Evans Welch, Mohammed maintained that Chatoo had made the request and he (Mohammed) had cautioned him about his constitutional rights. Mohammed claimed he passed on the information to Garcia, who was the lead investigator in the case. Hamid, who was also a homicide detective, also played a minor role in the case and was not cross-examined yesterday when his previous testimony was tendered into evidence.
Luke went missing on the evening of March 26, 2006 and his body was found two days later in an abandoned sugarcane field next to his community. An autopsy revealed that he died from internal injuries and bleeding arising out of being sodomised with cane stalk. Chatoo, who was 15-years-old at the time, and 13-year-old Mitchell, who is the nephew of Chatoo’s stepfather and lived with them briefly before Luke’s murder, were charged with the crime.
During the trial, two residents of the community, who were also minors at the time, testified that Chatoo had invited Luke on their fishing expedition. They also claimed that they last saw Luke when Chatoo, Mitchell and him diverted into the field. DNA evidence was also presented linking Mitchell to the sugarcane stalk used to sodomise Luke and semen that was found on his underwear. A second foreign DNA profile was found on the underwear but Chatoo was not linked to it.
Mitchell is being represented by Mario Merritt, Randall Raphael and Kirby Joseph, while Kelston Pope and Gabriel Hernandez are also representing Chatoo.
Anju Bhola and Sophia Sandy-Smith are also prosecuting.