Derek Achong

One of the two men on trial, for the brutal murder of six-year-old Sean Luke when they were teenagers, is expected to take the witness stand and testify in his defence.

Lawyers representing Richard Chatoo gave the indication at the end of a virtual hearing of his judge-alone trial before Justice Lisa Ramsumair-Hinds, yesterday.

His attorney Kelston Pope indicated that Chatoo planned to testify after State prosecutors closed their case against them but would not call any witnesses.

Akeel Mitchell’s attorney Randall Raphael indicated that he (Mitchell) would remain silent but would call two defence witnesses.

Raphael did not reveal the names of the witnesses during the hearing and said he would inform the court via email.

During yesterday’s hearing, State prosecutors completed the evidence of two police officers.

Former police officer Nicole Simon testified that she was a homicide detective in the case and was present when Luke’s decomposing body was found in an abandoned sugarcane field near his home, two days after he went missing in late March 2006.

Simon also interacted with Mitchell and his mother, while he was in police custody and was interviewed.

Simon admitted that both Mitchell and his mother had claimed that Luke was seen with a tall man dressed in white shortly before he went missing.

Simon confirmed that colleagues had told her that children in the area had given similar information and it was investigated.

Simon was also questioned over whether Mitchell was considered a suspect when she was instructed by a superior to request a voluntary DNA sample from him and his mother.

Simon said that at the time Mitchell was not a suspect but claimed that she could not say if there was a policy to only request samples from suspects at the time.

“In March 2006, the use of DNA was new and novel to us, especially me,” Simon said.

In his evidence, PC Lyndon Hosein testified that he took the missing person report from Luke’s mother Pauline Bharath at the Couva Police Station.

Hosein was not involved further in the investigation as after he forwarded the report to his supervisor, he was asked to go on patrol with a colleague.

A third witness was expected to testify yesterday but his testimony had to be deferred as he could not attend because he had contact with a COVID positive person and was in the process of being tested.

Simon and Hosein were the 20th and 21st witnesses to testify since the trial commenced.

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 a cane stalk.

Mitchell is also being represented by Mario Merritt and Kirby Joseph, while Evans Welch and Gabriel Hernandez are also representing Chatoo.

Sabrina Dougdeen-Jaglal, Anju Bhola and Sophia Sandy-Smith are prosecuting.

The trial is scheduled to resume tomorrow.