‘The quality of mercy is not strain’d; it droppth as the gentle rain from Heaven.’
With these words in mind, borrowed from famed poet William Shakespeare, a Penal woman will pour out her heart before a judge on Friday through her attorney, seeking mercy for killing her husband ten years ago. Her plea will hinge around the time spent in jail awaiting trial, during which, Jassodra Jugmohan suffered several minor strokes and is now confined to a wheelchair.
Jugmohan, 62, has been attending her trial on a stretcher and she is now unable to speak fluently. The case is engaging the attention of a jury and Justice Althea Alexis-Windsor in the San Fernando High Court. Jugmohan was charged with the June 2007 murder of Jagindranan Jugmohan, 57, who was strangled at his Clarke Road, Penal home.
Wife Jugmohan was charged with murder and was incarcerated at the Women’s Prison to await her trial. A Preliminary Inquiry ended when the coroner discharged the woman on the ground that the prosecution did not make out a prima facie case against her. The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions re-indicted Jugmohan, after a Judge in Chambers reviewed the evidence.
A warrant was taken out for her arrest and she was sent back to prison. For those ten years behind bars, Jugmohan’s health deteriorated and she became weak. When in 2013, while in prison, Jugmohan suffered three strokes. On each occasion that Jugmohan has been to court, female security guards have had to lift her bodily from the Women’s Prison van and place her on a stretcher.
In June, Jugmohan saw some ray of hope when Justice Alexis-Windsor set her case down for trial and empanelled a jury of 12 members. There were legal arguments with the jury out of court and hearing. Jugmohan was brought to the court in a stretcher which the guards converted into a wheelchair.
Former Attorney General Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, SC, is prosecuting the case, having been granted a fiat (permission) by the Office of the DPP. Jugmohan pleaded not guilty to the charge of murder as she maintained her innocence. During the course of several hearings, Maharaj accepted Jugmohan’s intention to plead guilty on the lesser count of manslaughter.
Yesterday, the charge of murder was read to her in the presence of the jury of 12 members. After her plea of not guilty to murder but guilty to manslaughter, Justice Alexis-Windsor directed the foreman to return a formal verdict to that effect. The judge adjourned proceedings to Friday, when Maharaj will outline the facts of the case and how Jugmohan came to be charged.
Prakash Ramadhar, MP for St Augustine, who is instructed by attorney Michael Rooplal, will plead on Jugmohan’s behalf for mercy. He has indicated his intention to seek a non-custodial sentence saying that to send Jugmohan back to prison will result in further deterioration of her health and possible death.