Derek Achong

The judge-alone trial of a man accused of murdering a security guard, during a robbery at a casino in Curepe over a decade ago, has been adjourned to consider the fate of his three accomplices, who are charged alongside him for robbing the business and its patrons but not the murder. The issue arose as Anthony “Bussa” Contrera’s virtual trial for murdering estate constable Qiydaar Alexander was set to kick off before Justice Lisa Ramsuamir-Hinds, yesterday. During the virtual hearing, Ramsumair-Hinds indicated that she was concerned that Contrera would have to face a second trial for the robbery charges after his trial for Alexander’s murder, which occured during the robbery, was completed by her. She called on the Public Defenders’ Department, which is representing Contrera and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), which is prosecuting the case, to consider whether the robbery charges could be severed from his alleged accomplices so that he could be tried for all the offences simultaneously. She suggested that the other alternative was allowing his co-accused on the robbery charges to decide if they wish to elect for a judge-alone trial and have their cases heard alongside Contretra. Before adjourning the case to Wednesday, Ramsumair-Hinds sought to assure Contrera that the issue she raised was not meant to delay the start of his trial unnecessarily. “You have my undivided attention. This is your trial window and you have it,” Justice Ramsumair-Hinds said. Contrera, 37, originally of Straker Lane in Tunapuna, is accused of murdering Alexander at Jackpot Casino and Members Club, Southern Main Road, Curepe, in January 2010. Contrera is also accused of robbing Alexander of his loaded service pistol. Contrera is jointly charged with two women and a man for robbing four patrons at the location of thousands of dollars in cash, jewelry, cellphone and other personal items. They are also accused of robbing the casino’s manager of $151,000 in cash and CCTV equipment. Contrera is being represented by Whitney Franklin and Darryl Douglas while Anju Bhola and Sophia Sandy-Smith are prosecuting.