Lead investigator in Sean Luke murder trial grilled by defence

Sean Luke. -
Sean Luke. -

THERE was an early end to the Sean Luke murder trial on Monday which is expected to resume on Wednesday when the main police investigator returns to continue his testimony.

After some difficulty in getting him at the trial, retired Sgt Alexis Garcia began his cross-examination at the main trial of the two men charged with Luke’s murder in 2006.

At the start of Monday’s session, the State was allowed to incorporate Garcia’s testimony from the pre-trial challenge of evidence session at the main trial.

Since the State had no further questions for him, Garcia was questioned by attorney Mario Merritt who is representing Akeel Mitchell.

Garcia admitted that as the main investigator in the case, he would have been aware of the evidence against Mitchell and his co-accused Richard Chatoo.

He said the evidence he had that implicated Mitchell were the statements of Arvis Pradeep and Avinash Baboolal, both of whom were among the group of from the Orange Valley, Couva area when Luke went missing on March 26, 2006.

Garcia also admitted both men gave conflicting evidence, with Baboolal even admitting he lied to the police.

Both Baboolal and Pradeep said they saw Luke on the evening of March 26 when a group, which included Mitchell and Chatoo, went fishing at a nearby river.

They said Mitchell and Chatoo took Luke into the cane field. Baboolal said it was before the fishing excursion, while Pradeep said it was after.

Garcia said he had other evidence that implicated Mitchell, but it was not his decision on what would be used at the trial.

He said he knew Baboolal’s account changed several times in his statement to the point that he also admitted he was lying to police.

However, Garcia admitted that he was not “troubled” or “concerned” by this since Baboolal’s position was later clarified.

He said there was no evidence pointing to Baboolal as the perpetrator of the crime at the time.

“I had no evidence implicating him in anything,” he said, adding that he also wasn’t looking at the possibility Baboolal was lying on Mitchell.

He said he did not take DNA samples from either Baboolal or Pradeep as there was no evidence implicating them at the time of the inquiry and, even so, the head of the homicide office at the time decided who DNA should be taken from.

Garcia’s testimony was expected to continue after the lunch break. However, when the matter resumed, the parties were told the judge had an emergency and the trial would not be able to continue for the day.

Garcia was told to return on Wednesday to continue his evidence. Mitchell and Chatoo opted for a judge-only trial and are before Justice Lisa Ramsumair-Hinds.

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

Prosecuting are assistant DPP Sabrina Dougdeen-Jaglal, and state attorneys Anju Bhola and Sophia Sandy-Smith.

Luke’s body was found on March 28, in the cane field, close to his Henry Street Ext home, two days after he went missing. An autopsy showed he died from internal injuries arising from being sodomised with a cane stalk.


"Lead investigator in Sean Luke murder trial grilled by defence"

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