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Keyana murder suspect needs money for asthma medication
The lawyer representing the 28-year-old suspect in the murder of six-year-old Maloney resident Keyana Cumberbatch has asked the public to help pay for his client’s asthma medication. The suspect’s attorney, Fareed Ali, made the plea to a group of people, among them two police officers, a state prosecutor and a fellow defence attorney, before the start of an unrelated hearing in the Port-of-Spain Eighth Magistrates Court yesterday morning.
“Is anyone willing to assist my client, the suspect in the six-year-old girl’s murder? He had no money and needs $1,154 for his asthma medication,” Ali said. His request was met with a loud roar of laughter which did not subside even after he made repeated assurances that it was sincere. Ali then asked media personnel, who were seated in the court waiting for the hearing to begin, if they were willing to publish a report on his appeal for assistance which he said might be more successful than his earlier attempt.
“There are 1.3 million people in this country. I’m sure that there are some sympathetic citizens who are willing to assist,” Ali said. Ali said he would allow his cellphone number to be published so interested good samaritans could contact him and said he was even willing to release his client’s prescription in the event a pharmacist wished to donate the medication instead of money.
When asked why the suspect was not able to access the medication through the Chronic Disease Assistance Programme (CDAP), under which citizens receive free prescription drugs, Ali said his client said he was unable to do so because of “red tape” and “paperwork” issues. The T&T Guardian understands that the suspect, who is unemployed, was detained the day after the child went missing near her home at Building Four, Maloney Gardens, last Monday afternoon.
Shortly after his arrest, Ali was appointed as the suspect’s duty counsel through the Legal Aid and Advisory Authority. While in police custody on Tuesday, the suspect reportedly suffered a serious asthma attack and was taken to the Eric Williams Medical Science Complex, Mt Hope. He remained warded under police guard until he was discharged on Friday. He was then returned to the Region Two Homicide Bureau at the Arouca Police Station, where he was being questioned by homicide detectives up to late yesterday.
The T&T Guardian was reliably informed investigators interviewed him again yesterday. During the interrogation they asked him to provide a semen sample for testing but he refused. Homicide detectives were said to be compiling a file on the case, which is expected to be forwarded to Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Roger Gaspard, SC, later this week for his consideration before charges were laid against the suspect.
Last Monday, Cumberbatch, a second-year pupil at the St Barbara’s Shouter Baptist Primary School, was on her way to her grandmother’s house, near her mother Simone Williams’s apartment, when she went missing. Three days later, police investigated a foul scent at her family’s three-bedroom apartment and found her body stuffed in a plastic barrel.
A post-mortem done last Friday at the Forensic Science Centre, St James, by forensic pathologist Dr Valery Alexandrov, showed she had been struck in the head with such force that her skull was cracked at the base. He also said she had been sexually assaulted while she was unconscious before she died.
Cumberbatch’s death and news of her autopsy results sparked public outcry and struck a chord with child rights activist and former Gender, Youth and Child Development Minister Verna St Rose-Greaves, who staged a protest inside the Parliament chamber during a sitting of the Lower House last Friday. Keyana’s funeral will take place at 1 pm tomorrow , at the Counsel of Elder Spiritual Shouter Empower Hall, Churchill-Roosevelt Highway, D’Abadie. PC Gonzales of the Homicide Bureau is continuing investigations.
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