PROSECUTORS are hoping to admit fresh DNA evidence in their case against the two men charged with the brutal murder of six-year-old Sean Luke in 2006.
However, at a virtual status hearing on Thursday, prosecutor Sabrina Dougdeen-Jaglal admitted the State had not yet applied to admit the evidence. since it was dependent on actually receiving the analysis of the samples.
She said the DNA analysis was still outstanding, but samples had been sent for testing in 2006. She added that there was a challenge with the Forensic Science Centre’s DNA lab which had not yet been resolved, and its capacity to do the analysis was “zero.”
“The sample is there, but we have not yet received the results,” she told Justice Lisa Ramsumair-Hinds.
However, she added that there was a legal notice which gave approval for a private laboratory to do DNA testing. By notice, dated January 11, 2021, National Security Minister Stuart Young approved the Caribbean Forensic Services.
At Thursday’s hearing, discussions surrounded timetabling of the preliminary examination to determine the competency of a witness, called a voir dire. This is expected to start on February 12, after which the actual trial will begin.
Akeel Mitchell, 28, and Richard Chatoo, 30, are before Ramsumair-Hinds in a judge-alone trial.
On Monday, she ruled that the trial could proceed after she dismissed an application by Mitchell to stay the prosecution against him permanently. She held that a prosecutorial blunder posed no risk to the fair trial process.
Sean Luke’s body was found in a sugar cane field near his home at Orange Valley Road in Couva in March 2006. The six-year-old had been sodomised with a sugar cane stalk that ruptured his intestines and internal organs. He died from internal bleeding.
Mitchell was 15 when he was arrested and charged and Chatoo was 12.
Both men appeared virtually from the Maximum Security Prison virtual court facility for prisoners, having been removed from the Youth Training and Rehabilitation Centre, where they had been detained since they were charged in 2006.
Mitchell and Chatoo are represented by attorneys Mario Merritt, Evans Welch, Kirby Joseph, Randall Raphael, Kelston Pope and Gabriel Hernandez. Anju Bhola and Sophia Sandy-Smith are also prosecuting