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9 freed of murder after 8 years in prison
After spending almost eight years in prison awaiting trial, nine men from Sea Lots were yesterday freed of murdering a man during a robbery in Cocorite in 2010.
The men walked out of the Hall of Justice in Port-of-Spain after High Court Judge Devan Rampersad upheld a no case submission from their attorneys, who claimed that State prosecutors had presented insufficient evidence against them.
The men are Reinaldo Marcano, 36, Raymond Birot, 45, Kurt Serrette, 36, Terrence “Trix” David, 36, Keston Morris, 29, Gerard Hepburn, 26, Keon “Taliban” Lawrence, 26, Joel “Snake” Roberts, 27, and 26-year-old Devon Victor.
The legal victory was bittersweet for the men and their family members, as three of their friends — Sherwin Alexander, 32, Richard “Bulls” Thomas, 36, and 23-year-old Sean Villafana, would have to remain on trial as the victim’s blood was allegedly found on their clothing when they were arrested hours after the murder.
After delivering the ruling, Rampersad directed the 12-member jury to enter not guilty verdicts for the nine men.
The group did not linger outside the court for long as they were chauffeured away in three vehicles, including one with Sea Lots community leader Cedric “Burkie” Burke inside.
The group of men were on trial for murdering 24-year-old Amiel George on January 18, 2010.
George was standing near his home at Harding Place, Cocorite when he was attacked by a group of men, who robbed him of a gold chain before chopping him several times. While no one witnessed the attack, residents claimed to have seen the men fleeing the scene in a maxi taxi.
A maxi taxi fitting the description was eventually intercepted along Wrightson Road in Port-of-Spain, with the 12 accused inside. The blood-stained cutlass, which was used in the attack, was recovered inside.
The group was also represented by Joseph George, Richard Clarke-Wills, Vince Charles, Hasine Shaikh, Joseph Sookoo, Danielle Rampersad and Alima Alexis. The trial is expected to resume next week.
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