Just less than five years after Route 32 bus driver Balram Teekaram was murdered, the prime suspect who is on trial for the murder is still denying all allegations of being part and parcel of the crime.
Alvin Semple, a friend of the deceased, is on trial before Justice Jo-Ann Barlow and a mixed jury at the High Court on a charge which read that on April 13, 2011, he murdered Teekaram at Sea View, Anna Catherina, West Coast Demerara (WCD), during the course of a robbery.
Reports are that on the night in question, the bus driver was awoken by a strange noise in his home and upon investigating the source of the noise, he was confronted by armed men who demanded cash and jewellery. The men also held up the man’s son, Yogindra Teekaram while they beat the older Teekaram, shooting him in the process.
They subsequently made good their escape with $700,000 in cash, a silver chain, cellular phones, jewellery and iPods. The injured Teekaram was rushed to the Leonora Cottage Hospital and later to the Intensive Care Unit at Georgetown Public Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.
Semple was later arrested and charged for the murder. The State is being represented by Attorneys Shawnette Austin and Tomeika Clarke, while the accused is being represented by Attorney Madan Kissoon. So far, the court has heard the testimonies of nine prosecution witnesses, inclusive of the son of the deceased. The defence presented one witness to add to the defendant’s sworn testimony.
Yogindra Teekaram, who is currently living in the US, testified via Skype, telling the court that on the night of the incident, he was awoken at about 01:00h when a cold object was placed to his ear. He recalled that he was 15 years old at the time of the incident.
He further stated that when he awoke, there were two men in his bedroom; one of whom was holding a gun to his face.
He stated that the men demanded valuables, and he begged them to take such while sparing the lives of his family. He even promised the men all of their valuables, in exchange that they do not harm him or his father.
Despite this, the witness recollected that a few moments later a loud explosion was heard in his father’s bedroom and the men left. While leaving, he stated one of the men’s rags which they used to conceal their faces fell off and he recognised the intruder as “Alvin”, the defendant.
He stated that he could have positively identified the man as they frequently played cricket together in the village. He explained that he quickly went into his father’s room where he found his father unconscious in a pool of blood.
Meanwhile, the defence commenced their case with the defendant’s sworn testimony. Semple denied committing the offence, telling the court that he was at home with his aunt at the time of the incident.
Under cross examination by State Prosecutor Shawnette Austin, the defendant denied the allegation that he usually played cricket with the son of the deceased. The Prosecutor further put it to the defendant that he would frequently ask the deceased’s son whether or not his father owned a firearm, which he denied.
The only defence witness, who is the aunt of the accused, was called on Friday. Dhanraji Gurdai, also known as “Leila”, testified that during the period of the murder, her nephew was living with her. She swore that on the night of the incident, Semple was at home sleeping.
The woman explained that she was sure of this as they lived in a small zinc house which only had one bedroom which they shared. She went on to explain that due to medical ailments, she would have to use the washroom four to five times a night and when she got up at about 01:00h that morning, Semple was asleep on the bed next to hers.
Under cross examination, the woman stated that her memory was good and as such, she could testify that Semple was at home on the night in question.
However, when asked by the Prosecutor if she could remember the events of April 11 and April 17, 2011, she responded in the negative telling the court that it was too long ago to remember. With that, both the defence and prosecution rested their cases.
The matter will be recalled on February 17 for summing up and the ruling. (Reprinted from Guyana Times)