An attorney for one of the men, charged with murdering six-year-old Sean Luke when they were teenagers, has raised issues with his client being re-sampled for DNA this week.
Attorney Evans Welch, who is leading Richard Chatoo’s legal team, raised the issue as virtual pre-trial hearings of the case continued before Justice Lisa Ramsumair-Hinds yesterday.
Welch claimed that when he was contacted by prosecutor Sabrina Dougdeen-Jaglal about the re-sampling on Monday, he planned to visit his client to discuss the issue on Thursday as he believed that the swabs would be taken, next week.
Welch claimed that he later learned that the process was completed on Wednesday.
While Welch acknowledged that the Administration of Justice (Deoxyribonucleic Acid) Act, allows for a repeat non-intimate sample to be taken from an accused without their consent, he noted that there was a strict process to be following including completing the process within 24 hours of the accused person receiving specific notice of the requirement.
Welch said he was also concerned that he and his colleagues would be ambushed by the results of DNA testing, which has been outstanding in the case for over a decade, as it may become available when the judge-alone trial has already commenced.
Responding to Welch, Dougdeen-Jaglal apologised for the mix-up in communication but stated that the process was out of her control.
While Dougdeen-Jaglal was reluctant to give any assurance on the test results, she said she expected that they would be ready to be disclosed in two weeks’ time.
She did promise that the trial would not commence before the reports are filed, disclosed, and considered by Ramsuamir-Hinds.
“I don’t intend to spring anything by surprise,” Dougdeen-Jaglal said.
Ramsumair-Hinds also indicated that she would hear the submission from Welch when the reports become available.
The issue with the delay in DNA testing was revealed by Dougdeen-Jaglal, earlier this year.
Dougdeen-Jaglal said that the samples were submitted to the Forensic Science Centre in 2006 and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has yet to receive the results.
At the time, Dougdeen-Jaglal expressed hope that the process would be completed quickly so the reports could be used when the trial of the case commences later this year.
She pointed to a legal notice signed by National Security Minister Stuart Young on January 11, in which Caribbean Forensic Services was approved to conduct DNA testing on behalf of the State pursuant to the DNA legislation.
Earlier this year, Ramsumair-Hinds set a tentative trial date of March 15 but that date may change as she is still in the process of finishing voir dires, in which she is considering the admissibility of statements Chatoo and his co-accused Akeel Mitchell allegedly gave police when they were arrested.
Mitchell’s voir dire has already been completed with Ramsumair-Hinds expected to give her ruling on Monday.
Luke’s body was found in a sugar cane field near his home at Orange Valley Road in Couva in March 2006.
The six-year-old had been sodomized with a sugar cane stalk that ruptured his intestines and internal organs.
Luke’s murder sparked public outrage and is still considered to be one of the most gruesome killings in recent history.
Mitchell is being represented by Mario Merritt, Randall Raphael, and Kirby Joseph, while Kelston Pope and Gabriel Hernandez are also representing Chatoo. Anju Bhola is appearing alongside Dougdeen-Jaglal for the State.