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Four plead guilty to felony murder

By \\\\\ Nikita Braxton-Benjamin nikita.braxton@trinidadexpress.com

FOUR men yesterday pleaded guilty to felony murder.

Lauren Aguillera, Shawn and Evans Ballai and Richie Ayow appeared before San Fernando First Criminal court Justice Hayden St Clair-Douglas, charged with the 2006 killing of Robert  Ramnath.

Ramnath, 51, a scrap iron dealer of Penal, was found dead near a pumping jack in Erin on August 10 of that year.

His car was found crashed and abandoned a short distance away.

A post-mortem conducted by pathologist Hughvon Des Vignes noted that there were extensive fractures to Ramnath’s skull and lower jaw.

There were three abrasions over the right side of the face  and two chop wounds to the head area of the deceased. 

There were also lacerations to the lower lip area and the head area of the deceased.

The four accused, who were then aged between 17 and 24 years old, were later identified in connection with Ramnath’s death.

Interviews were conducted with all four and statements were given by three of them.

Justice Hayden St Clair-Douglas yesterday asked if the liability of the four accused was on the basis of the felony murder rule.

State attorney Angelica Teelucksingh confirmed.

The felony murder principle states if a killing occurs during the commission of an arrestable offence involving violence, all those who participated in the arrestable offence are guilty of unlawful homicide, either murder or manslaughter, depending on the facts surrounding the participation of the particular accused.

Aguillera was represented by lawyers Nigel Pilgrim and Gizelle Landeau.

Shawn Ballai’s attorneys are Rekha Ramjit and Marissa Bubb, while Evans Ballai is represented by attorneys Cedric Neptune and Bubb, and attorney Beecham Maharaj represents Ayow.

The hearing was adjourned to July 30, pending a probation officer’s report on the four men.

The judge is expected to review the reports and hear from the lawyers, before sentencing the men.

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