(Trinidad Guardian) A jilted husband and his friend were sentenced to death by hanging on Monday, for soliciting and contracting a hitman to murder the man’s ex-wife and her lover for $30,000 some 11 years ago.
Basdeo “Bas” Ramlochan and Siewkumar “Bobby” Chankapersad remained stone faced when Justice Malcolm Holdip twice sentenced them to death, but their relatives broke down in tears in the San Fernando First Assizes. Their sobs, however, escalated into piercing screams as they stepped out of the courtroom.
It took the 12-member jury less than an hour to return guilty verdicts against both men, who went on trial in May for the murders of Sunita “Michelle Ramlochan, 29, and her common-law husband Rahim “Bam” Abraham, 46, a car dealer.
The State’s case was not that Ramlochan and his friend Chankapersad pulled the trigger, but that they sought out and hired a hitman to do the killings. The actual killers, who shot the couple in the bedroom of their Fyzabad home on the night of October 15, 2006, are still at large.
The evidence was that Sunita, Abraham and her 11-year-old daughter, who is also Ramlochan’s child, returned to their Kuldip Trace, St John’s Village, Avocat home around 11 pm after visiting the Divali Nagar site. They lived in a downstairs apartment at Sunita’s father’s home. Sunita’s father, who lived upstairs, told the police that five minutes after they got home he heard a bang and Sunita bawl “Oh God.”
The father then heard Abraham ask: “What you doing here?” followed by four to five explosions. The father started walking down the step, he said, when he saw two people going to the back of the house.
State attorneys Stacy Laloo-Chong and Anslem Alexander led evidence from police officers that Chankarpersad confessed to soliciting and paying a hitman, on behalf of his co-accused, to murder the couple. He gave the police an account of the role he played in the slayings.
The State also led evidence from a civilian witness (whose name has been withheld to protect him) that he was approached by Ramlochan on six occasions between 2004 and 2006 to help him find someone to carry out the murders.
The witness, a security guard, testified that Ramlochan complained that he was having marital problems and his wife wanted to take his money, house and child. The State led evidence that Ramlochan and Sunita eventually separated and got a divorce. Another civilian witness testified that in 2006 Ramlochan complained to him about his marital problems and told him he paid a man he called fatman $90,000 to carry out the murders, but nothing happened. The man also testified that Ramlochan told him that Chankapersad arranged a meeting with a hitman and he (Ramlochan) took the hitman to where his ex-wife was living. He further testified that in October 2016, he was at Ramlochan’s home when he (Ramlochan) threw a bag containing $30,000 on a table, saying, “You think is joke I does be making.”
Ramlochan, who was represented by attorney Rekha Ramjit, did not give evidence, but Chankapersad opted to testify. He admitted to soliciting a man named Strong from Marabella to do the killings for $30,000 and arranging for him to meet Ramlochan.
Both accused were arrested and charged by detective Peter Ramdeen in December 2006. Chankapersad was represented by attorneys Bindra Dolsingh. The State called 21 witnesses and read and admitted into evidence the statements of seven other witnesses, including Sunita’s deceased father. Sunita’s mother, Elsie Beharry, also shed tears yesterday, but they were tears of joy that she finally got justice.
“My daughter was my happiness. This is all I wanted,” she said.