Minor hitch in Sean Luke trial – final witness has covid19 concerns

Sean Luke -
Sean Luke -

ANOTHER subpoena will be issued for the prosecution’s final witness – the police officer who charged the two men with the murder of six-year-old Sean Luke – to return to court to complete his evidence.

The State has encountered some difficulty in getting retired Sgt Alexis Garcia to give his testimony at the trial because of his concerns for his family and exposure to covid19.

A subpoena was issued on Tuesday, but it was not served as he was not at home.

Garcia was expected to testify on Wednesday when the judge-only trial resumed after a one-week break.

Previously, Garcia had expressed concern with giving evidence from one of the locations set aside by the Judiciary for witnesses, or having court staff go to his home.

On Wednesday, Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions Sabrina Dougdeen-Jaglal told the court Garcia’s son, who is also a police officer, was in quarantine waiting on his covid19 test result. She said he was willing to testify on Monday, hoping by then his son gets his result.

Although Justice Lisa Ramsumair-Hinds had expressed a wish for the prosecution to close its case by Wednesday, she admitted “these were unusual circumstances” as she granted an adjournment to next Monday.

“Once he completes his evidence, the State will close its case.”

If he comes, the evidence Garcia gave at the pre-trial hearing on the admissibility of evidence will be incorporated into the main trial and he will be questioned by attorneys for Akeel Mitchell and Richard Chatoo, who are charged with Luke’s murder.

When the prosecution closes its case, attorneys for both men are expected to make submissions on the evidence after which, depending on how the judge rules, the defence will present their evidence.

Mitchell’s lawyers have already indicated that he will not testify in his defence but will call two witnesses. Chatoo is not expected to call witnesses but has indicated that he would take the witness stand.

Mitchell is relying on alibi and has denied committing the brutal act while Chatoo claims the allegations against him were fabricated. He has also maintained that statements police took from him were adduced as a result of oppression, trickery, force and inducement.

When both men were arraigned in February, they pleaded not guilty.

Mitchell and Chatoo were both teenagers when they were charged by police. Luke went missing on the evening of March 26, 2006 and his body was found two days later. An autopsy revealed that he died from internal injuries and bleeding arising out of being sodomised with a cane stalk.

So far the State has called evidence from 37 witnesses who have either testified in person or have the evidence they gave at the pre-trial session incorporated into the main trial.

One such witness, who’s evidence in chief was incorporated into the main trial was former police officer Rodney Mohammed who only returned briefly on Wednesday when he was questioned by Chatoo’s attorney for details when he (Mohammed) took the then teen to the washroom while he was detained at the police station.

The evidence of Azam Hamid, another police officer, was incorporated without him having to return to court since the defence teams for both accused had no questions for him.

Mitchell and Chatoo are represented by attorneys Mario Merritt, Evans Welch, Kirby Joseph, Randall Raphael, Kelston Pope and Gabriel Hernandez.

Also prosecuting are state attorneys Anju Bhola and Sophia Sandy-Smith.


"Minor hitch in Sean Luke trial – final witness has covid19 concerns"

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