Murder trial to resume after judge’s decision

| 08/02/2010

(CNS): Following three days of ‘closed door’ legal arguments, the murder trial of Kirkland Henry and Larry Rickets is expected to resume today once the chief justice gives his ruling on the submissions made by the solicitor general and Ricketts’ (left) defence attorney. On Friday Cheryll Richards QC and Robert Fortune presented their submissions over the admissibility of evidence to the judge based on testimony from key witnesses during the three day voir dire. The ‘trial within a trial’ was interrupted briefly on Friday when the pathologist confirmed that Estella Scott-Roberts’ death was associated with asphyxiation and that she was dead before the killers set the car alight.

When asked by the solicitor general if Scott-Robert’s murder was consistent with a plastic bag being place over her head, Dr Bruce Hyma told the court that it was. He confirmed that while the remains he received had been badly burned as a result of the vehicle fire, he was able to confirm that Scott-Roberts was not breathing when the fire started as there was no evidence of debris or soot in the airways which formed part of the remains he received.

Dr Hyma also confirmed that there were no chemicals associated with a victim breathing in fumes or smoke in the blood. He concluded that Scott-Roberts was the victim of a homicide and there was evidence of some form of asphyxiated death in the lungs, though he could not be specific about the exact cause of death. He said, given the evidence in the lungs and the absence of a bullet among the remains, suffocation could not be ruled out.

The voir dire was interrupted to hear Dr Hyma’s testimony as the pathologist is based in Miami.

However, no other witnesses have given testimony before the full court since Tuesday, when Detective Superintendent Marlon Bodden was stopped part way through his evidence. DS Bodden had told the court that sometime following his arrest, Kirkland Henry had confessed to being at the scene of Estella Scott-Roberts’ death but said that Larry Ricketts, who was with him on the night question, had killed her.

The senior detective told the court how Henry had confessed in the back of a police car but pointed the finger at Ricketts as thedriving force behind the crime. Bodden said that after Henry had told him his version of the events on that night (10 October), he read the notes back to him. Henry said he did not read well but still looked it over before he signed the police officer’s notebook. Bodden said Henry then directed the police to Bayshore Mall, where he pointed out one of the ATMs that he said Ricketts had attempted to use with the stolen card on the morning following the murder. After that, he took the police to Ricketts’ residence on Walkers Road but he was not there, so the officers and Henry continued to drive around various places in George Town looking for him.

It was at this point that Bodden’s testimony on the stand was halted and Ricketts’ defence attorney asked for the voir dire, triggering a three day trial within a trial and raising questions which Justice Anthony Smellie must now rule on before the murder trial continues. Depending on that ruling, DS Bodden is expected to return to the stand today, Monday 8 February.

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