One of the 11 men on trial for the murder of businesswoman Vindra Naipaul-Coolman was this morning freed.
After spending nine years in prison, Joel Fraser walked out of the Hall of Justice in Port-of-Spain a free man after presiding Judge Malcolm Holdip upheld his no case submission in which his attorneys said that the State had failed to present any evidence linking him to the crime.
Similar applications were made by the Fraser's co-accused when prosecutors closed their case last year. However, all except Fraser's were overruled by Holdip.
In a brief interview as he walked out of the court with his attorney Ulric Skeritt, said: "Justice has been served."
Holdip's ruling means that the other accused still on trial will now have the opportunity to call decence witnesses or testify in their defence before Holdip sums up the case to the jury and allows them to deliberate over their guilt or innocence. They will return to court next Monday.
Naipaul-Coolman was abducted from her home at Lange Park, Chaguanas, on December 19, 2006. A $122,000 ransom was paid by her family but she was not released and her body has never been found.
Since the trial began in March 2014, prosecutors have claimed that she was held captive in a house at Upper La Puerta, Diego Martin, before she was killed and her body disposed of.
In addition to circumstantial evidence recovered at the homes of the men, who all lived in the hillside community, prosecutors relied on the evidence of their main witness Keon Gloster, who was allegedly present but did not participate in the crime.
While testifying last year, Gloster repeatedly claimed that he was coerced by police into implicating the accused men, most of whom he is related. Gloster was deemed as a hostile witness and his sworn statements given to police were tendered into evidence and read to the jury.
The trial began with 12 accused men, with Allan "Scanny" Martin was shot dead by police after staging a daring prison break from the Port-of-Spain State Prison at Frederick Street, last July.