The inability of the prosecutors to use the evidence of their main witness who migrated has led to three men from Enterprise, Chaguanas, being freed of murdering a fellow resident in 2015.
Dave Junior "Abdul Malik" Nesbitt, Adrian "Cudjoe" Clarke and Malcolm Quintin were discharged by Senior Magistrate Rajendra Rambachan, yesterday afternoon.
Nesbitt, Clarke and Quintin were accused of murdering Amos Dick, who was shot and killed at the corner of Mano Street and Postman Drive in Enterprise, Chaguanas, on October 17, 2015.
Quintin was 17-years-old when he was charged alongside Nesbitt and Clarke.
Last month, Rambachan rejected an application from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to use the witness statement of its main witness Crystal Lewis, who implicated the trio before migrating to the United States.
In that application, under Section 15 of the Evidence Act, the DPP's Office claimed that Lewis could not be found despite reasonable steps being taken to find her.
In denying the application, Magistrate Rambachan raised multiple issues with the handling of the witness.
"There is an inescapable taint on this application that affects the believability of it," Rambachan said.
He noted that in assessing the application, the Justice of the Peace (JP), who certified Lewis' main statement, admitted that she (Lewis) did not show him any identification documents first.
The JP also admitted that the signature placed by the woman, who was brought to him, differed from signatures on other documents attributed to Lewis.
"I was genuinely left with an indelible suspicion that it may not be Crystal Lewis...It could have been anyone," Rambachan said.
The DPP's Office did not appeal Rambachan's ruling and sought to reapply under a different segment of the legislation, which provides for a statement to be used in lieu of oral testimony where a witness is outside of T&T and it is not reasonably practicable to secure his/her attendance.
During yesterday's hearing, Rambachan pointed out that the DPP's Office had first applied under the provision before withdrawing it and bringing the other application, which was eventually dismissed by him, last month.
After the matter was stood down for prosecutor Raydon Dalyrmple-Watts to consult with DPP Roger Gaspard, SC, Dalyrmple-Watts returned and indicated that his office would no longer be pursuing the second application and would close its case against the trio without Lewis' evidence.
The trio's attorneys then applied for them to be discharged due to insufficient evidence linking them to the crime. Rambachan agreed.
The trio was represented by Jagdeo Singh, Criston J Williams and Richard Jaggasar.