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...Manslaughter charge for 15-year-old relative

By Alexander Bruzual

Even as relatives of 14-year-old Murchannah Lavia paid their final respects yesterday during a funeral service for the teenager who was tragically killed last week, officers of the Homicide Bureau of Investigations had received instructions to charge the 15-year-old male relative allegedly responsible for the incident, with manslaughter. 

Police sources said on Monday, a party of officers from the Homicide Bureau initially visited the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions with a completed file on the incident. It was said they were asked to return to the office yesterday morning, and after discussions were held with Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Joan Honore-Paul, the officers were given instructions to charge the 15-year-old boy with manslaughter. 

However, sources noted that in proceedings such as these, the presence of a guardian was needed when charges of such a serious nature were being laid against a minor. However, the guardians of the accused teenager were at Murchannah’s funeral at the Petit Valley Pentecostal Church, at Stoer Drive Extension, Petit Valley. 

As a result of this, police sources have indicated that only when the parents could visit the detained teenager either late last night or early this morning, would charges  officially be laid, following which the 15-year-old will be brought before a Port of Spain magistrate. 

The news of the decision to charge the 15-year-old reached the ears of mourners at Murchannah’s funeral, as Rev Anthony Quimby informed the congregation that the police had informed the grieving parents of the situation mere moments before the service began—something he said he took personal umbrage to.

“I take umbrage with the police. The (parents and guardians of Murchannah and the 15-year-old suspect) were told about the situation just before the funeral service. They (the police) could have exercised a little more sensitivity. Life goes on and they could have been informed about it after,” Quimby said. 

Police reported that at about 8 p.m. on March 19, Murchannah was sitting in the living room of her Stoer Drive, Petit Valley, home, reading a book, while the 15-year-old male relative sat next to her.  

While playing with a gun he had allegedly received from a person known to him, the weapon went off. 

Murchannah, a pupil of the Providence Girls Catholic School, was shot once in the chest. She was rushed to the St James Medical Complex, however, she was pronounced dead on arrival. 

A party of officers from the Western Division, including Insp Roger Thomas visited the scene and detained the 15-year-old relative. H owever, the firearm which killed the 14-year-old girl was missing, and is yet to be found.

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