Hofosawa Awena Rutherford, who is on trial for two counts of manslaughter over killing her children by poisoning had, days after, told detectives that she was experiencing family problems and that she was unable to support them due to being unemployed.
This is according to Detective Police Sergeant, Lawrence Thomas, who was called to testify yesterday when Rutherford’s trial continued before Justice Navindra Singh and a 12-member mixed jury at the High Court in Georgetown.
Rutherford, 25, of Supply Mahaicony, East Coast Demerara is accused of unlawfully killing her two children 16 month-old Jabarie Ajoya Cadogan and four year-old Odaceia Juliana Cadogan on March 27, 2014 at her residence.
Rutherford, who is being represented by Attorney-at-law, Adrian Thompson, has pleaded not guilty to both charges. Presenting the state’s case are Prosecutors Tiffini Lyken, Abigail Gibbs and Shawnette Austin.
The state is contending that on the day in question, Rutherford killed her children by giving them a poisonous substance to ingest. Jabarie died while receiving treatment at the Mahaicony Cottage Hospital.
His sister later succumbed at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC).
Sergeant Thomas testified that he interviewed Rutherford one week after the killings at the Beterverwagting Police Station, East Coast Demerara and she volunteered to give a caution statement. Sergeant Thomas, who is stationed at the Central Police Station and attached to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) said that at the time of the killings, he was stationed at the Mahaicony Police Station and attached to CID.
The policeman said that before taking a statement from the woman he cautioned her in accordance with the judge’s rules and notified her of her right to have an Attorney-at-Law, friend or family present to witness the taking her statement.
The police witness said that during the meeting Rutherford told him that she had been experiencing some family problems and that she was unable to maintain her children because she was unemployed at the time.
According to the detective, Rutherford also told him that sometimes her sister, Monica Sealey, who had testified on Monday, would refuse to give her children anything to eat. Sergeant Thomas said that Rutherford told him on March 27, 2014 she had asked Sealey to keep Jabarie and Odaceia, but she refused. He said that Rutherford told him that instead, she took her children by an aunt who resides at Ann’s Grove, East Coast Demerara.
The detective said that Rutherford related to him that she travelled to Georgetown where she bought three greenish tablets for cold from a man who was selling at the Plaisance Bus Park.
Rutherford told the cop that she stopped at her aunt’s residence and pick up her children before going home. Sergeant Thomas said that the alleged killer recalled that when she arrived home and told her sister goodnight, she refused to answer. The police witness added that Rutherford recalled giving half of a tablet to both of her children before ingesting the remaining two.
Rutherford, Sergeant Thomas recounted, said that the children began vomiting and Sealey inquired from her what she had given them to drink and she told her it was tablet for cold.
Earlier on his testimony, the police witness recalled visiting Rutherford’s residence where he found what appeared to be vomit inside a chair in the living room. He said that he also found a creamish powder-like substance concealed in a plastic bag on a barrel in the bedroom which Rutherford and her children occupied.
He added that a drinking glass was also found on the floor. According to the detective, on April 4, 2014, he and other police ranks accompanied Rutherford to the Plaisance bus park for her to locate a man from whom she claimed she had purchase rat poison.
He stated that he contacted several persons in the area but none of them were aware of anyone selling rat poison.
The court was told by Sergeant Thomas that he saw two men in the area selling rat poison and inquired from them if they had sold any to Rutherford.
The men, the Police Sergeant related, responded in the negative after which he escorted Rutherford back to the Beterverwagting Police Station where she was kept in custody before she was charged and taken to court on April 7, 2014.
During the cross-examination by Thompson, Sergeant Thomas admitted that he is aware of Rutherford being hospitalised for about a week. He said that he is also aware that police ranks visited the hospital and interviewed the woman.
Quizzed by Thompson as to whether it is normal practice for police to interview persons who are hospitalised, the detective responded in the affirmative and disclosed that when he saw Rutherford she “appeared fine.”
This trial is continuing.
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