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Derek Achong

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has closed its case against two men accused of murdering six-year-old Sean Luke as teenagers. The State’s last witness in the case, retired Sgt Alexis Garcia, who served as the lead investigator, completed his cross-examination during a virtual hearing before Justice Lisa Ramsumair-Hinds, yesterday. Justice Ramsumair-Hinds will now hear and determine no-case submissions from the duo’s attorneys, who are likely to claim that prosecutors have presented insufficient evidence linking their clients to the heinous crime. In the event that Justice Ramsumair-Hinds sees merit in the submissions, one or both men can possibly walk free. If she rejects the submissions, Richard Chatoo and Akeel Mitchell will be then be called upon to present their defences. Chatoo’s attorneys have indicated that he would take the witness stand to testify in his defence. Mitchell is expected to remain silent and but will call two defence witness. Once the duo presents their defences, Justice Ramsumair-Hinds would consider the evidence in the case and determine their guilty or innocence. While being questioned yesterday, Garcia was repeatedly forced to defend his work in the investigation into Luke’s murder. “This was not no back to front investigation,” Garcia said. He also repeatedly denied coercing Chatoo into giving a statement implicating himself and Mitchell.”You sat in the interview pretending in front of the camera that it was a spontaneous statement, knowing fully well it was a fabrication you induced him into,” Chatoo’s lawyer Evans Welch said.”Not true sir. I never induced the accused,” Garcia responded.While being cross-examined by Mitchell’s lawyer Mario Merritt, Garcia admitted that he never questioned Mitchell directly over Luke’s murder before charging him. Garcia claimed that this was because Mitchell and his mother were both uncooperative.Garcia also admitted that he allowed Chatoo and not Mitchell to confront a teenager from their community, who claimed that he saw Chatoo, Mitchell and Luke divert into a sugar cane field while they were on their way to fish by a river. “I was of the view that it would not be fair,” he said. Garcia was also quizzed whether he investigated reports from Mitchell, his mother, his uncle Raymond Bruzual, who is Chatoo’s stepfather, over seeing a man resembling Luke’s father walking with him (Luke) into the sugarcane field. Garcia suggested that he believed that the person was fictitious.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 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. During the trial, DNA evidence was presented linking Mitchell to the sugar cane stalk used to sodomize 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 also being represented by 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.The trial resumes tomorrow.