Over 15 years after Mala Mohammed, the wife of businessman Khalid “Uncle Khalid” Mohammed was executed at her home, two men accused of the crime have walked free.
It took a 12-member jury before Justice Maria Wilson at the Hall of Justice in Port-of-Spain almost two hours, yesterday afternoon, to return with the unanimous verdicts for Sheldon Reid, 47, and 37-year-old Dewane Swan, both of Five Rivers, Arouca.
Before being led out of the court by police officers, Swan stopped to thank the jurors for their verdict.
Reid declined to comment when braced by reporters as he was clearly emotional on greeting his two sons and daughter, who he had not seen since they were children.
“I just want to bury my wife,” Reid said as he noted that his wife passed away, last Saturday.
In a brief interview, Swan said he was pleased with the verdict but lamented over the time it took for the case to go to trial.
According to the evidence in the case, Mohammed was ambushed shortly after driving into the garage of her Edward Street, Princes Town, home on May 10, 2004.
“Don’t kill me. I will give you all the money,” were Mohammed’s last words before she was shot in her head and back.
The incident was witnessed by Mohammed’s watchman, who was restrained by her attackers as he opened the gate. However, he died before the case went to trial and his testimony from the preliminary inquiry of the case was tendered into evidence.
The Mohammeds’ former maid Selene Sookoo was in the house at the time but hid under a pool table in the basement after seeing Mohammed’s attackers enter the property. She was not able to identify the attackers as they wore masks.
During the trial, which began in October, last year, State prosecutors relied on a series of statements, which police claimed the men gave when they were arrested several months after the murder.
Police also claimed that Swan took them to locations where he pointed out areas where they ran away and disposed of their disguises.
Throughout the trial, the duo’s defence attorneys Wayne Sturge and Mario Merrittt repeatedly questioned whether their clients had been coerced into signing the statements on the promise of immunity.
State prosecutors brought two Justices of the Peace who claimed to have supervised interviews and certified statements after being satisfied that they had been given willingly.
Mohammed’s husband was barely mentioned in the case as the lead investigator Inspector Fitzgerald George claimed that he was a person of interest and not a suspect in his wife’s murder.
George also claimed that Khalid, who was abroad when his wife was killed, did not implicate himself when he (George) interviewed him.
He (Khalid) also denied asking his brother-in-law to lie to police over the couple’s marital issues, when he was being questioned.
George was also accused of having a friendship with Swan’s father. He was also quizzed over whether his son was a member of the Jamaat-al-Muslimeen and had known Reid, who was also a member. George repeatedly denied the claims.
Reid and Swan were also represented by Alexia Romero, Karunaa Bisramsingh and Roshan Tota-Maharaj. Joy Balkaran and Candace Nanton represented the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).