Of the two partial foreign DNA profiles found on the underwear that six-year-old Sean Luke was wearing when he was murdered, only one was matched to one of the two men on trial for commiting the crime as teenagers.
Testifying in the virtual judge-alone trial before Justice Lisa Ramsumair-Hinds yesterday, Dr Maurice Aboud, the laboratory director at Caribbean Forensics Services, said that Akeel Mitchell could not be excluded as a minor contributor to the mixed sample that was lifted from Luke’s clothing.
However, Aboud was able to say that Mitchell’s co-accused Richard Chatoo was not linked to the mixed sample.
State prosecutor Anju Bhola, who led Dr Aboud’s evidence, sought to get him to suggest an explanation for the unidentified contributor to the mixed sample by asking if it was possible that it came from Luke’s mother Pauline Bharath.
Chatoo’s lawyer Evans Welch strongly objected to the question, which he described as unscientific.
“Putting these hypothetical facts to an expert who has no DNA profile for Luke’s mother is speculative,” Welch said.
Ramsumair-Hinds agreed and prevented such questioning.
During his evidence, Aboud said that he performed specific additional tests on spermatozoa that was found in semen on the underwear and linked it directly to Mitchell.
He estimated that there was a random match probability of one in 45.9 million.
The statistic shows the probability of an unrelated person, randomly selected from the general population, having the same match.
Aboud also testified that he performed tests on swabs taken from Luke’s penis, anus and fingernails during his autopsy but no viable DNA for comparison was obtained.
DNA tests on samples from the cane stalk that Luke was sodomized with and caused his death, were also inconclusive.
The trial of the case was expected to resume on Monday with Aboud’s cross-examination but Ramsumair-Hinds agreed to adjourn it by two days to allow Mitchell’s legal team time to consider the forensic evidence.
The DNA evidence in the case came days after Ramsumair-Hinds rejected an application by Mitchell’s attorneys to stay the case against him because the State sought to bring the contentious evidence at an advanced stage of the trial.
Ramsumair-Hinds noted that Mitchell would not be prejudiced as State prosecutors did inform his attorneys of their intention to have the items tested after Dr Aboud’s company was certified to perform such tests for the State, via a legal notice, earlier this year.
Before Aboud was allowed to testify, Mitchell’s lawyers sought to have Ramsumair-Hinds exclude the evidence as they claimed that their client had not budgeted to hire a forensic expert to challenge his (Dr Aboud) evidence as they believed that prosecutors would have pursued the case without it.
The application was rejected by Ramsumair-Hinds, who gave the longer adjournment for them to consider their options.
Since the trial commenced, a little over two dozen witnesses have given evidence.
The witnesses included Luke’s mother and two residents, who were among a group of children that went fishing with Luke when he disappeared.
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 sodomized with cane stalk.
Chatoo, who was 15-years-old at the time, and 13-year-old Mitchell, who is the nephew of Chatoo’s stepfather and lived with them briefly before Luke’s murder, were charged with the crime.
Mitchell is being represented by Mario Merritt, Randall Raphael and Kirby Joseph, while Kelston Pope and Gabriel Hernandez are also representing Chatoo.
Sabrina Dougdeen-Jaglal, Anju Bhola and Sophia Sandy-Smith are prosecuting.