Several testify in ‘Smyth Street’ murder trial

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The accused: Morris Prince at the Demerara High Court

AS the ‘Smyth Street’ murder trial continued in the Demerara High Court on Thursday before Justice Navindra Singh, several witnesses testified.

According to the indictment, it is alleged that on March 19, 2016, in the county of Demerara, Morris Prince murdered Oriley Small.

Upon the presentation of the indictment, the accused, Morris Prince, pleaded not guilty to the murder charge and, as such, a trial commenced in which 19 witnesses are expected to testify.

On Thursday, Detective Sergeant Rodwell Sarrabo took the stand and testified that he assisted in the investigations. He told the court that on the day in question, he was on duty at the Criminal Investigations Department (CID), Brickdam, and relative to a report at 13:00 hours, he received certain information and instructions, after which he contacted the accused.

Sarrabo said that he put the allegation to Morris Prince which stated that, on the day in question, he, in the company of others, armed with dangerous weapons, murdered Oriley Small.

The accused was, however, cautioned and, in response, denied any involvement while the police witness said the accused did not make any statement to the police under duress.

Meanwhile, under cross-examination by defence attorney, Mark Waldron, the police witness admitted that he was the second- in-charge of the investigation. He stated that ex-cop Derwin Eastman was the first rank on the scene on the day in question.

Responding to questions posed by Waldron, Sarrabo added that on the day in question, he visited the crime scene. He stated that he knew the deceased because the police were familiar with him since he was a person of interest to law enforcement.

The police witness told the court that he was aware that the deceased was shot before his demise and he had personally arrested him on several occasions.

In relation to the matter, when questioned by Waldron, Sarrabo said he interviewed several persons, including the sister of the deceased and took statements.

Sarrabo admitted, under questioning, that there was no eyewitness to the fatal shooting of the deceased but the sister had told police she saw a man dressed in a ‘hoodie’ leaving the yard, on the day in question but she could not identify the man.

It was put to Sarrabo by Waldron that there was no evidence linking the accused to the murder since no gun was found, and he agreed.

The next witness to testify was Government Pathologist, Dr. Nehaul Singh, who gave the cause of death as multiple gunshot injuries.

He told the court that all nine gunshots exited the body.

Senior Superintendent Philip Azore took the stand and said that, in March 2016, he was stationed at CID Forensic Lab, Eve Leary, as a forensic analyst.

This witness was then deemed an expert in trace evidence and forensic analysis after the application made by the state was granted by the trial judge.

In his evidence-in-chief, he told the court that on March 26, 2016, he received several sealed evidence bags containing exhibits from Constable Rockliffe.

He related that all the evidence which included a black jacket, a pair of pants, a tee-shirt, and two cotton swabs, were all tested for the presence of gun powder residue, but only the black jacket, the tee-shirt and the two swabs tested positive.

Azore opined that the shooter was right-handed, based on the location of the gun powder residue which was found on both the jacket and tee-shirt.

The next witness, Inspector Shivram Mordyal, testified that in March 2016, he was stationed at CID Brickdam and he assisted in the probe. He visited the crime scene where he saw a motionless body lying in the passageway of the yard, located at Lot 2 Smyth Street, Werk-en-Rust.

He told the court he made checks to the building, observed that a glass window was broken and retrieved a warhead (component of a bullet). He also collected metal objects and spent shells from the crime scene.

Mordyal said on March 21, 2016, he was on duty at about 13:00 hours when he was contacted by detective Sergeant Rodwell Sarrabo and he told him ‘something’.

He added that when he put the allegation of murder to the accused, the latter said, “yall can’t find no gun powder residue on me because I ain’t fire no gun.”

At this point in the trial, a voir dire (a trial within a trial) was called to determine the admissibility of evidence in the case.

More witnesses are expected to take the stand on Friday (February 8, 2019).

The state is being represented by prosecutors Tuanna Hardy and Abigail Gibbs while the defence attorney is Mark Waldron.