The lead investigator in the murder of six-year-old Sean Luke has been questioned over why two teenage neighbours, who admitted to lying to police over seeing Luke on the day he went missing in 2006, were not treated as suspects.
Retired Sgt Alexis Garcia was interrogated over his handling of the case as he returned to the witness stand to be questioned by attorneys for Richard Chatoo and Akeel Mitchell as the virtual judge-alone trial resumed before Justice Lisa Ramsumair-Hinds yesterday.
Garcia gave evidence during pre-trial applications in the case and his previous testimony was incorporated into the trial, but he returned to answer additional questions from the duo’s attorneys.
Garcia admitted that at the time he charged the teenagers for the crime, they were implicated by fellow teenagers Arvis Pradeep and Avinash Baboolal, who were among a group of children who allegedly went on a fishing expedition with Luke when he went missing.
He admitted that both Pradeep and Baboolal gave varying accounts before they claimed that they saw Chatoo and Mitchell divert into an abandoned sugarcane field with Luke.
Pradeep claimed that the incident occurred after the fishing trip but Baboolal claimed that it was before and only Chatoo rejoined the group to continue on the expedition.
While he confirmed that Baboolal admitted that he lied initially as he was concerned about being sent to prison, Garcia maintained that he had no information that Baboolal was involved in Luke’s death.
“I had no evidence implicating him in anything,” Garcia said, as he claimed that he was not concerned by Baboolal’s statement as his (Baboolal) concerns could be due to multiple reasons besides him being involved.
He also claimed that DNA samples were not taken from Pradeep or Baboolal as neither was a suspect.
Garcia could not complete his cross-examination during yesterday’s hearing as Justice Ramsumair-Hinds had an emergency and the hearing had to be adjourned in her absence.
Luke went missing on the evening of March 26, 2006 and his body was found two days later in an abandoned sugarcane field next to his community.An autopsy revealed that he died from internal injuries and bleeding arising out of being sodomised 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.
During the trial, DNA evidence was presented linking Mitchell to the sugarcane stalk used to sodomise Luke and semen that was found on his underwear.
A second foreign DNA profile was found on the underwear but Chatoo was not linked to it.
Chatoo also allegedly confessed to his role in the crime in an interview with police but his attorneys have contended that he was intimidated and coerced into doing so and was not warned of his constitutional rights.
Mitchell is being represented by Mario Merritt, Randall Raphael and Kirby Joseph while Evans Welch, Kelston Pope and Gabriel Hernandez are representing Chatoo.
Sabrina Dougdeen-Jaglal, Anju Bhola and Sophia Sandy-Smith are prosecuting.
Garcia, who is the State’s last witness in the case, is expected to continue his cross-examination when the case resumes tomorrow.