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Fork, shovel ruled out of evidence
Prosecutors in the Vindra Naipaul-Coolman murder trial were prevented yesterday from tendering a shovel and garden fork, found at the Diego Martin home of several of the 12 accused, into evidence. The attempt to tender the implements was made during the testimony of the State’s latest witness PC Stanley Romeo and was met with objection from defence attorneys who questioned their relevance. “It must be relevant to the murder of Naipaul-Coolman,” said Mario Merritt, who is representing three of the accused.
Special prosecutor Gilbert Peterson said although forensic tests on both tools yielded negative results, the items could still be considered circumstantial evidence. “The prosecution has a responsibility to not only lead incriminating evidence but also those gathered in the course of the investigation,” Peterson said. Presiding judge Malcom Holdip disagreed with Peterson and upheld the objection. In his opening address in the case, lead prosecutor Israel Khan, SC, said it was the State’s case that Naipaul-Coolman was being held captive at a house in Upper La Puerta, Diego Martin, for more than a week before she was shot dead, dismembered and buried in a forested area.
The Xtra Foods chief executive was abducted from her home at Radix Road, Lange Park, Chaguanas, on December 19, 2006. The defence attorneys were not as lucky in their attempt to block Peterson from tendering a silver chain and pendant, found by Romeo and his colleagues during a search of the house in May 2007. That search, which led to the arrests of most of the men on trial, took place almost five months after police initially raided the area in search of the Naipaul-Coolman. Peterson said the jewelry, which included the word “NINJA”, would be used to resolve an issue with an alias assigned to one of the accused. Holdip agreed. In his testimony, Romeo, a homicide detective, told the jury and five alternates that while searching the house, police seized 11 cellphones, jewelry, a small quantity of cash and the tools.