Judge apologetic as murder accused walks after five years behind bars
Marlon Garrett who spent the last five years on remand for murder, was freed on Monday by High Court Judge Sandil Kissoon, citing “evidential insufficiency.”
Justice Kissoon ruled in favour of a motion submitted by defence attorney Rabindra Mohabir to dismiss the murder indictment.
Last month, 22-year-old Garrett of Albouystown, Georgetown, was arraigned for the capital offence of murder, but he pleaded guilty to the lesser count of manslaughter.
The charge stated that on September 11, 2016, at Robb and Bourda Streets, he murdered the unidentified man – a vagrant.
During his sentencing hearing on Monday, Garrett opted to change his plea and pleaded not guilty instead.
Mohabir, in his motion for dismissal, told the court that Garrett acted in self-defence and was protecting his mother’s property against the victim. The attorney further submitted that under the law, those actions are not a criminal offence.
Justice Kissoon agreed with the lawyer’s submission. He said that Garrett “ought not to have been placed before this court or any other court” after taking the self-defence circumstances into consideration.
“It is another of several cases within recent times that highlight the shortcomings and failure of the prosecutorial arm,” Justice Kissoon said during his remarks as he labelled the indictment a “travesty” since it breached Garrett’s right to liberty.
He also highlighted that Garrett was only 17 when he was charged with the capital offence.
“I cannot undo what has been done. I could only attempt to expedite your release from prison,” the Judge told Garrett as he quashed the indictment and the committal order.
According to police reports, on the day in question, Garrett and the victim were engaged in a heated row when Garrett pulled out a knife and stabbed the victim in the lower region of his abdomen.
The man was rushed to the Georgetown Public Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Persons at the market identified the man as Omesh Chetram, 34, of Unity, East Coast Demerara, however, this was never confirmed.