Two men from Belmont have been freed of murdering a former under-23 national footballer in a drive-by shooting in 2011.
After spending a little over eight years in remand awaiting trial, Akeem “Sprang” Gomez and Abdul Charles were freed of the charge at the Hall of Justice, in Port-of-Spain, between Monday and yesterday.
Charles was discharged on Monday after High Court Judge Lisa Ramsumair-Hinds upheld a no-case submission, in which his lawyers challenged the evidence linking him to the crime.
Ramsumair-Hinds rejected a similar application from Gomez’s lawyers and decided to sum up the State’s case against him to the 12-member jury yesterday morning.
The jurors spent less than half an hour deliberating on the case, before they returned with their unanimous not guilty verdict for Gomez.
Gomez and Charles were on trial for murdering 20-year-old Muatah Taylor on January 30, 2011.
Several hours before his eventual death, Taylor, a former student of the East Mucurapo Secondary School, attended a boat cruise in Chaguaramas, during which he and his friends got into an argument with another group.
Taylor and a friend were returning to their homes at Harding Place, Cocorite, when a car pulled alongside theirs and the front seat passenger shot at them.
Taylor was shot twice including once in his head and died while receiving treatment at the Port-of-Spain General Hospital.
His friend, who was driving the vehicle, escaped unscathed and became the State’s main witness against the duo.
However, while testifying in the trial before Ramsumair-Hinds, the witness was deemed hostile and the strength of his evidence was challenged.
Gomez was represented by Hasine Sheik and Roshan Tota-Maharaj, while Mario Merritt and Delicia Helwig-Robertson represented Charles.