DPP stops murder trial

Senior state attorney Jeron Joseph caught everyone offguard when he told the court he could go no further with the case against Shaheed Sookhoo.

Sookhoo, of Waterwheel Road, Diego Martin, was before Justice Devan Rampersad in the Port-of-Spain Fifth Criminal Court for the last two weeks. He was charged with the murder of 28-year-old Marlon Hessic, a convict, at Petit Valley on November 30, 2003.

When hearing ended on the last occasion, the main witness was being cross-examined by defence attorney Keith Scotland.

However, when hearing resumed yesterday, the judge asked Joseph to call his witness. But Joseph said he wanted to make a statement in the presence of the jury and alternate.

Joseph added, “We have looked at this evidence over the weekend. I had consultations with the honourable Director of Public Prosecutions. In light of the evidence, we are proceeding no further with the evidence. We cannot negate self-defence, so we are asking the court to discharge the accused.”

Scotland, who led Michelle Solomon, commended Joseph and the DPP for stopping the trial. He said the prosecution’s main witness, while under cross-examination, put the case strictly on the issue of self-defence. He said the State had no choice in the matter. Justice Rampersad then directed the jury to formally acquit Sookhoo.

There were tears of joy among members of the Sookhoo family in the public gallery. Half an hour later, a smiling Sookhoo emerged from the Hall of Justice. He thanked God for his freedom. “It has been a long time. I am trying my best not to get into trouble again. I want to walk a straight line. Jail not nice, I did not mean for it (the killing) to happen. It was not my intention to kill him.”

The court heard that on the day in question, Hessic, Winston Phillips and Sookhoo were liming in Petit Valley. Hessic told Sookhoo that he wanted him on a “scene” with him at Four Roads. That meant for them to go and commit a robbery. When Sookhoo refused, he was pulled from the vehicle and thrown on the ground.

Hessic began cuffing Sookhoo. It was during this assault, that Sookhoo pulled a knife from Hessic’s waist and stabbed him in the neck. Hessic subsequently died.

A post-mortem revealed that Hessic suffered eight stab wounds. The examination also showed that Hessic had a high level of alcohol in his blood. There was also marijuana in his body.

The court also heard that Hessic was the aggressor and was bigger than the accused. Hessic had previous convictions for larceny of a motor car, robbery with violence, escaping lawful custody, malicious wounding and assaulting the police.


"DPP stops murder trial"

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