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The dozen men before the jury and Justice
Malcolm Holdip are: Allan "Scanny" Martin,
twin brothers Shervon and Devon Peters,
siblings Keida and Jamille Garcia and their
older brother Anthony Dwayne Gloster,
brothers Marlon and Earl Trimmingham,
Ronald Armstrong, Antonio Charles, Joel
Fraser and Lyndon James. A 13th man,
Raphael Williams, was charged with the crime
but died in prison in 2011 of complications
from sickle-cell anaemia.
Their legal team includes Ulric Skerritt,
Joseph Pantor, Selwyn Mohammed, Lennox
Sankersingh, Ian Brooks, Wayne Sturge, Mario
Merritt, Richard Valere, Kwesi Bekoe, Colin
Selvon, Vince Charles, Christian Chandler,
Delicia Helwig and Alexia Romero.
The prosecution team includes Senior
Counsel Israel Khan, Gilbert Peterson and
Dana Seetahal, who are being assisted by
senior state prosecutor Joy Balkaran.
Tuesday, March 25, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Tight security as Naipaul-Coolman murder trial starts
for 24th MARCH, 2014
Almost eight years after Xtra Foods chief
executive Vindra Naipaul-Coolman was
abducted from her Chaguanas home and
subsequently killed, the trial of a dozen
men accused of her murder began in the
Port-of-Spain High Court yesterday.
The trial started with the State s opening
address to the jury, which included the har-
rowing tale of Naipaul-Coolman s last days,
narrated by special state prosecutor Israel
The jury, the dozen accused men and
their two dozen attorneys all listened atten-
tively to the narrative, despite the grisly
descriptions, complex storyline and several
religious and cultural references which Khan
wove together in his four-hour presenta-
Khan encouraged jurors to be objective
and dispassionate when listening to the evi-
dence and told them to divorce their personal
opinions from their deliberations.
"Give these men a fair trial but don t have
any sympathy for them or the victim," Khan
He explained to jurors that during the
trial, the State, in its bid to prove the guilt
of the 12 men, would lead a mixture of sci-
entific and circumstantial evidence, coupled
with testimony from one of the accused
men s neighbours, who was allegedly present
when Naipaul-Coolman was killed and her
body disposed of.
"When you put together everything like
a jigsaw puzzle you would get a clear picture
of the story of this woman s death," Khan
However, he was careful to note that the
State did not have the evidence to link the
men to Naipaul-Coolman s kidnapping on
December 19, 2006 but instead could only
prove that they were aware of it and par-
ticipated in her murder and the disposal of
"If, after hearing the evidence, you have
a reasonable doubt, set them free. If in your
heart and conscience you know they are
guilty, find them guilty," he said.
Khan revealed that of the 74 state wit-
nesses expected to testify in the trial, 65
were police officers and the rest members
of Naipaul-Coolman s family, including her
husband, Rennie Coolman, and her daughter
from a previous marriage, Risha Ali.
The trial is expected to last well over a
year, as defence attorneys representing each
man are expected to cross-examine several
important witnesses individually.
Security measures at the Hall of Justice,
Port-of-Spain, were increased yesterday as
the murder trial started.
Security officers set up a secondary check-
point outside the entrance to the Second
and Third Assizes hours before the matter
started. Visitors were told to leave their cell-
phones with security personnel before they
were allowed into the two courtrooms.
The two rooms, outfitted with video con-
ferencing equipment, are being used for the
trial to accommodate the large number of
attorneys who are defending the 12 accused.
The trial has been blighted with delays
in the past as many of the accused had dif-
ficulties in securing legal representation
before the Legal Aid and Advisory Authority
intervened in 2012 to implement a special
State to call 74 witnesses
Cabinet-approved payment plan to convince defence
attorneys to represent the accused in the trial.
Jury selection began in May last year when more
than 600 people were summoned as potential jurors.
The trial could not begin immediately after the
month-long jury selection process, however, as defence
attorneys were engaged in pre-trial legal arguments.
Before adjourning the case, Justice Malcolm Holdip
warned jurors not to discuss the trial with their
friends, family and members of the public.
State prosecutors will begin presenting evidence
in the case tomorrow.
WHO'S IN COURT:
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