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Witness goes missing, murder accused freed
The inability of police to locate a teenager, who witnessed his father’s murder when he was nine-years-old, has allowed the alleged killer to walk free.
After spending almost a decade on remand, 37-year-old Dwayne Bramble walked out the Hall of Justice in Port-of-Spain a free man yesterday, as Justice Gillian Lucky stayed his indictment over the police’s failure to find the State’s main witness against him.
Lucky ruled that homicide detectives who charged Bramble with murdering former Unemployment Relief Programme (URP) foreman Brandon Duke in 2007, had failed to take reasonable steps to locate his (Duke) son Lyndon.
As a result, Lucky denied an application from State prosecutors to tender his witness statement into evidence in lieu of him testifying and being cross-examined. The process is frequently used when witnesses die or leave the country before trial. A similar application was allowed during Bramble’s preliminary inquiry and at his first trial in 2014, which ended in a hung jury.
Lucky noted that police merely did surveillance on the 19-year-old’s home and only spoke to his grandmother, which were the same steps they took during the inquiry and previous trial.
She also agreed with Bramble’s lawyers that police should have increased their attempts to locate Lyndon earlier this year and should not have waited until two months before the trial was due to begin. She also suggested that social media service Facebook could have been used to attempt to locate Lyndon.
“Things should and could have been done earlier and the court can not turn a blind eye to this delay,” Lucky said. Duke, of Upper Fairley Street, Tunapuna, was killed in a shooting on May 25, 2007. Duke had taken his son to a parlour in the community to purchase a soft drink and was ambushed by a gunman, who shot him several times.
Duke’s son escaped unscathed and allegedly identified Bramble, of Achong Trace, Balthazar Street, Tunapuna, as the gunman. Bramble was represented by Evans Welch and Kelston Pope.
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