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Man freed of double murder after decade in custody

Published: 
Tuesday, December 5, 2017

After spending almost a decade in prison and facing two trials, a 31-year-old man from Maraval was yesterday freed of charges which accused him of murdering two men by a bar in St James.

It took a 12-member-jury before Justice Althea Alexis-Windsor in the Port-of-Spain High Court a little over an hour to return with not guilty verdicts for Jayvon Charles, of Boissiere Village, Maraval.

As the jury foreman indicated their unanimous decisions, Charles smiled and nodded at them from the prisoner enclosure.

In an interview as he greeted his relatives outside the Hall of Justice, Charles said he was pleased with the verdict and thanked his attorneys Stephen Wilson and Delicia Helwig-Robertson.

The verdicts come three years after Charles’ first trial before Justice David Harris, which ended with a hung jury.

Ask the first thing he planned to do, Charles said he wanted to visit his son, who was born shortly after he was charged and remanded for murdering Anthony Boodoo and Wilfred Mohammed on December 1, 2007.

It was the State’s case that around midday on that day, Boodoo, Mohammed and their friends Sheldon Bernard and Harold Joseph were liming outside a bar at the corner of Francis and Perigord Roads in Long Circular, St James.

Two armed men approached Boodoo and shot him several times.

The gunmen then threatened Bernard and other patrons but did not shoot at them. Before they fled the scene in an awaiting vehicle, one of the gunmen shot Boodoo two more times at close range.

Mohammed was hit by a stray bullet and died while receiving treatment at the hospital.

The State’s main witness was Joseph, who claimed to have hidden at a nearby business when the shooting began. Joseph identified Charles, whom he claimed to have known since he (Charles) was a little boy.

However, Joseph was murdered before Charles’ preliminary inquiry began and his statements given to police days after the incident were tendered into evidence.

Bernard, was also a State witness, did not identify Charles as one of the shooters. Bernard testified at the preliminary inquiry and first trial but was killed by police during a shooting in St James in February last year.

Lennox Alexander, who was also liming at the bar on the day of the shooting, was called as a defence witness by Charles.

Alexander, who said he knew Charles for nine years, claimed that Joseph was intoxicated and did not witness the shooting as he left the bar minutes before the incident.

Alexander also gave a description of the shooters which matched Bernard’s account and denied that Charles was one of them.

In her summation of the case, Alexis-Windsor warned jurors to be cautious when approaching Joseph’s evidence because he was never cross-examined by Charles’ lawyers.

“Just because he knew him since he was a little boy, does not mean that it was not possible that he (Joseph) was mistaken,” Alexis-Windsor said. The case was prosecuted by Anju Bhola.