AFTER spending 15 years in jail awaiting trial, La Brea fabricator Jimmy Huggins walked out of the San Fernando High Court yesterday a free man.
Shortly after 4 pm yesterday, a 12- member jury returned with a not-guilty verdict after having deliberated for less than an hour. The trial went before Justice Carla Brown-Antoine in the First Assizes Court.Huggins was 19 and a father of one when police charged him back in 2003 for the murder of 53-year-old Dalip Rambharose. The victim died of a heart attack on May 17, 2003, two weeks after a man chopped off his left thumb during an attempted robbery at Rambharose’s mini-mart at Sobo Circular Road, Sobo Village in La Brea.
The state contended that on May 2, 2003, Huggins and another person attempted to rob the diabetic businessman during which he (Rambharose) was chopped. The state’s case was that the injury caused Rambharose’s death. Attorney Rekha Ramjit instructed by Hazel Castro represented Huggins while the state was represented by Stacy Laloo-Chong and Shabaana Shah. Speaking to reporters outside the courthouse, Huggins said: “God is the boss” as he thanked his attorneys and hugged family members. Huggins said throughout his long wait in jail, his family never abandoned him. Huggins said the time in jail was a virtual sentence. “Jail is not a nice place. I would not wish it on my worst enemy. My daughter is now 14 years and I just want to go home and introduce myself to her. I want to be with my family,” Huggins said.
He plans to seek employment as soon as possible, having completed a fisherman’s course and computer literacy programmes, among others, prior to his arrest. Saying there are many innocent people languishing in jail, Huggins had a warning for the public. He claimed people are framing others for murders.
“There is something that is going on where people are giving people murders and sending people to point them out and to give statements. We have to be careful,” he said. Despite the tough time spent in prison, he thanked members of the Prisoner’s Journey programme.
Ramjit charged that if proper investigations and analysis were done, her client would never have been charged. She criticised the Legal Aid and Advisory Authority and the judiciary saying both are falling apart.
“The judiciary seems to be finding itself in more and more problems every single day, none of which assists in speeding up the delivery of justice. Whether people are innocent or guilty, they ought to know that at an early stage,” Ramjit said.