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Third retrial ordered in Samdaye murder case
After spending six years in remand, five men were yesterday ordered to face a retrial for a third time for the alleged kidnapping and murder of San Juan businesswoman Samdaye Rampersad. Even after deliberating for more than three hours, a 12-member jury, sitting in the Port-of-Spain Second Criminal Court, told trial judge Malcolm Holidip they were unable to come to a unanimous verdict on the men.
Phillip “The Boss” Boodram, of Dow Village, California; Roger Mootoo, of Springvale Village, Claxton Bay; Ricky Singh, of Cedar Hill Road, Claxton Bay; Kervin Williams and Aaron “Arc Eye” Grappie, both of Pranz Gardens, Claxton Bay, were all before the court accused of being responsible for Rampersad’s death.
All five stood silently in the prisoner enclosure of the court as the foreman of the jury explained that the jurors would not have been able to come to an agreement even if given more time to deliberate by Holdip. As they were being led out of the court, the muffled sobs of scores of their relatives were heard coming from the public gallery of the packed courtroom.
During the trial, which lasted for almost nine months, the court heard that Rampersad was kidnapped by masked men while standing in front of her home in Petit Bourg, San Juan on November 25, 2005. Her body was found 41 days later in a shallow grave in a cashew field in Carolina Village, Claxton Bay.
Rampersad’s brother, Mervyn, was contacted several times after his sister’s kidnapping by a man who demanded a $2 million ransom for her safe release, although at that time she was already dead. Three of Rampersad’s relatives—her sister, daughter and Mervyn—were present to witness the verdict yesterday.
The trio was seen consoling each other while leaving the court yesterday afternoon. All five accused have pleaded not guilty. Williams and Grappie claimed they were at a wedding on the day of Rampersad’s abduction, while Boodram said he was hunting in Moruga.
One of the State’s witnesses, forensic pathologist Hughvon des Vignes, testified that an autopsy of Rampersad’s body showed she died of asphyxia and suffocation consistent with being buried alive. During the trial, it was revealed that the State’s main witness, Nigel “Cat” Rodrick, was at the Remand Yard awaiting trial for murder. Rodrick testified that he gave the confession which implicated the accused in the matter while he was in police custody for his alleged involvement in another murder.
He claimed he was present at a meeting at which the kidnapping was planned, and at Rampersad’s eventual death. The accused are being represented by a legal team, which includes attorneys Evans Welch, Wayne Sturge and Christon Williams. Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Kathy-Ann Waterman-Latchoo prosecuted the matter.
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