getting ready: Defence attorney Lana Lakhan on her way to court yesterday.

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Wait on evidence, not opening statement

Judge tells jurors:

By Rickie Ramdass rickie.ramdass@trinidadexpress.com

JURORS in the Vindra Naipaul-Coolman murder trial were yesterday directed by High Court Judge Malcolm Holdip to disregard several statements made by the State’s lead prosecutor, senior counsel Israel Khan, during the prosecution’s opening address to the jury last Monday.

Prior to the start of yesterday’s hearing, the judge informed the jurors that some of the statements made by Khan, will not be presented as evidence and as such, it should be fully disregarded.

Some of these statements included Khan pointing out to the jury that Naipaul-Coolman was killed after a piece of green cloth was removed from over her face, making her able to see her captors, and one stating that the prosecution’s main witness, Keon Gloster, will be recanting his statement.

Holdip said there is no evidence in the case, stating that Naipaul-Coolman, 52, was murdered after the piece of cloth was removed from over her face, nor should it be speculated what type of evidence will be given by Gloster as up to yesterday he had not as yet been called as a witness.

“For some reason counsel made reference to hearsay evidence. I have to ask you to disabuse this from your mind,” said Holdip.

He was speaking of another statement made by Khan, where he told the jury one of the accused men told police he was told by another individual some of the other men charged with the murder had dug up Naipaul-Coolman’s body parts from below a cashew tree in La Puerta, Diego Martin, before placing it in a boat and dumping it out at sea.

“When counsel said ‘it was a deliberate decision to kill the woman and all of the accused were present’, he was asking you to draw a conclusion before hearing the evidence,” said Holdip.

“There was also a statement that there may be a Judas among you (the jury). “This is asking you to rely on your religious persuasion on how you should deal with the matter. I do not want you to have any external influence with regard to religion (in determining the matter), said the judge.

He however pointed out that as members of the jury, their duty was to arrive at a verdict based on the evidence presented, and that they should not show any sympathy for either Naipaul-Coolman or the men charged with her murder in doing so.

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