By Michael Jordan
Police are still awaiting the results from gunpowder residue tests in some shooting deaths, including the slaying of Korner Kick Manager, Tevin Parris, and the mysterious shooting deaths of Pomeroon farmers, Ambrose Baharally and Martin Godette.
That’s because the Guyana Forensic Science Laboratory (GFSL) has a huge backlog of forensic evidence to process, says Director Delon France.
Mr. France revealed that the GFSL started conducting tests for the Guyana Police Force on March 1, 2017.
“We had boxes upon boxes of evidence that we had to process; not only for gunpowder residue, toxicology and currencies, but for blood and other cases,” the Director explained during an exclusive interview with Kaieteur News.
“And evidence was also coming in daily. We were working on getting the backlog out (especially) on pending and ongoing cases, where police would be requiring information on whether to charge within 72 hours.”
The GFSL Director also explained that two tests (presumptive and confirmatory) are required to confirm the presence of gunpowder residue, since there are substances (such as brakes pad residue) that are similar to gunpowder residue.
“The preliminary tests (also called the presumptive or screening tests) will pick up (evidence of) chemicals which appear to be gunshot residue, or which mimic gunshot residue.
“Then you do the confirmatory tests, which would confirm what substance it actually is.”
But while the lab was able to conduct the preliminary tests, the equipment that would confirm the presence of gunpowder was still at the police laboratory. It was also not working.
Mr. France revealed that after acquiring the finances through government, and bringing in engineers from England, “we were able to identify the problem, and by the end of February, we will have the backlog cleared up.”
But the GFSL Director stressed that forensic tests “cannot be rushed,” since they have to be conducted in a manner that is consistent with international standards.
“It takes a lot of time to do those tests. What the lab is doing is developing standards and procedures according to international accreditation; so there are a lot of steps to follow. At the end of the day, our integrity is on the line.”
Murder of ‘Korner Kick’ Manager
If this backlog is cleared, police should soon receive the results of forensic evidence from the January 7 murder of Tevin Parris.
The 27-year-old Manager of the ‘Korner Kick’ bar was found dead in his bed, in the upper flat of his Lot 66 Garnett Street, Newtown home.
He had been shot to the head.
An unlicensed 9mm pistol, with 14 live rounds was found in his right hand.
But a postmortem indicated that the injury was not self inflicted. He was shot from a distance and a matching bullet casing was also found under the corpse.
The postmortem, conducted by Government pathologist Dr. Nehaul Singh, revealed that the bullet entered the victim’s right nostril and exited the middle of the head.
There was also little facial damage, which would have occurred if he had been shot at close range.
Investigators detained an individual who was close to some members of the slain man’s family. They also swabbed the suspect and victim for traces of gunpowder residue.
Police are also likely to receive the results from gunpowder residue taken following the shooting deaths of Ambrose Baharally, 28, of Grant Stelling, Hope Lower Pomeroon, and Martin Godette, 23, of Friendship Canal, Lower Pomeroon. The coconut farmers were found dead with gunshot wounds to their heads at Baharally’s home on January 14.
It was revealed in a postmortem that while Godette was shot from a distance, Baharally was shot at close range.
One report alleged that the two coconut farmers and a third man were drinking and smoking marijuana when Baharally shot Godette. The third man reportedly fled the scene. There are suggestions that Baharally then took his own life, but the motive for the killing is unclear.
Baharally’s wife later led detectives to an area where she had allegedly disposed of the murder weapon after discovering the two bodies.
Police recovered a 9mm Beretta pistol with a magazine, one .38 revolver, 16 live cartridges, 21 live .38 rounds, 19 live 9mm rounds, six .32 rounds, two 9mm spent shells and 51.5 grams of cannabis.
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