Enterprise taxi driver murder trial commences
- Jury empanelled, opening statements set for today
By Latoya Giles
A mixed jury was empanelled before Justice Winston Patterson, as the murder trial for a man accused of killing Enterprise taxi driver Vivekanand Nandalall, started yesterday.
On trial is Bare Roots, East Coast Demerara resident Shawn Richardson called “Jungle Commando” who was charged back in 2004. The indictment was read to the defendant yesterday and he pleaded not guilty to the offence of murder.
State Prosecutors Konyo Sandiford and Judith Ghildarie-Mursalin are presenting the case, while Richardson is being represented by Attorney-at-Law Clarissa Riehl. The opening arguments are expected to begin today before Justice Patterson.
Magistrate Brassington Reynolds had freed Richardson back in 2007, however he was rearrested minutes after the decision was handed down.
Richardson, who was picked up during a police raid in Buxton, had first appeared at the Vigilance Magistrate’s Court charged with the murder of Nandalall. The taxi driver was killed sometime between October 2003 and March 2004. He was kidnapped in October 2003 while making a pick up in Bachelor’s Adventure. His car was found abandoned on the Annandale Railway Embankment Road and his family was contacted by the kidnappers who demanded ransom of $1 million. His uncle paid the ransom but he was never freed despite continuous pleas. His kidnappers later murdered him and his skeletal remains were found in the cane field behind Bare Roots.
On March 12, 2004, a Guysuco field supervisor found the skeleton, with one bullet hole to the skull, about a mile and a half south of the Bachelor’s Adventure Squatting Area. There was no other evidence than that of a lock of hair on the skull, which indicated that the deceased was of Indian descent.
Relatives had confirmed that they had received the results of the DNA test, which was done in Canada via Multi-Tech Laboratory in Guyana. The results showed there was a 99.94% probability that the skeleton was that of Nandalall. An autopsy revealed that the victim died as a result of a gunshot wound to the head. A .38 warhead was found in the skull.
Richardson’s lawyer at the time, former Director of Public Prosecutions, George Jackman, had argued that no official from Canada had come to testify about the DNA results.The lawyer had also argued that the police had gotten a confession statement from Richardson which did not connect him to the crime.
During the Preliminary Inquiry (PI) the police led evidence, with their main ‘weapon’ being the confession statement.
A policeman during the PI even admitted that it was possible that Nandalall could be elsewhere while it was being reported that he was killed.