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Second person cleared of murder of Venezuelan man

Second person cleared of  murder of Venezuelan man

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A second person who had been charged in connection with the murder of a Venezuelan man in 2010 has been cleared of that charge.

Sheon “Scobie” Veira, 42, a mechanic of Ratho Mill, walked away a free man from the High Court on Thursday, November 27, after a no case submission put forward by his lawyer Carlyle Dougan was upheld by her ladyship, Kathy-Ann Waterman-Latchoo.{{more}}

Three days prior to his walking free, Otricia Smart, the 29-year-old woman with whom he was jointly charged, was also cleared of murdering Juan Carlos Cuauro Chirinos, a 37-year-old businessman.

The judge had ruled in favour of Smart and her lawyer, Patina Knights, on legal arguments during a voir dire hearing, just before the commencement of the substantive matter on November 17.

Veira and Smart were also cleared on the charges of unlawfully and maliciously wounding with intent Chirinos’ brother, Douglas Efren Cuauro Chirinos; two counts of unlawful use of firearm and two counts of unlawful use of possession of a firearm with intent to commit an offence.

On June 22, 2010, Juan Carlos was shot and killed at his Ratho Mill apartment during an alleged robbery. He sustained gunshot wounds to his right side and chest.

His brother, Douglas, who was also in the apartment at the time of the murder, sustained gunshot wounds to the fingers on both hands.

According to Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions Colin John, the only evidence that linked Veira to the crime was the evidence of the deceased’s brother, Douglas Chirinos, who resides in Venezuela. John explained that a plane ticket was purchased for Chirinos to come to St Vincent to testify at the trial.

“We arranged a hotel for him and he was supposed to arrive on November 14. We wanted to have a conference with him before the trial. He was scheduled to leave Venezeula on November 13 and arrive on the 14,” John stated.

John said on the day Douglas was scheduled to leave Venezuela, he (Douglas) called to say that he had some matters to attend to and that he would be unable to make the trip.

“We advised him ways in which he could alleviate those problems, but the long and short of it is that he did not come.”

At the commencement of the trial, John made an application to have Chirinos’ deposition entered into evidence, but Dougan objected and legal arguments commenced from both sides.

The judge subsequently granted the application for the deposition to be entered into evidence.

At the close of the case, Dougan made a no case submission that there were inconsistencies between the deposition and Chirinos’ initial statement, in relation to the height and other descriptions of the alleged killer.

The judge agreed.

“So, because of the inconsistencies in the deposition and the original statement, it would be unfair to send the matter to a jury, because he would likely not receive a fair trial, so the no case submission was upheld,” John said.

With there being no other evidence linking Veira to the crime, the judge instructed the 12-member jury to return a not guilty verdict on all counts.

In relation to Otricia Smart, the only thing that linked her to the crime was a caution statement given by her. Her lawyer had argued that it was unfair for her caution statement to be admitted into evidence, because she had been promised by police that she would not be prosecuted.

“The fact that she had turned up on a prior occasion to give evidence for the prosecution, the judge believed that some promise would have been made to her, so the judge did not admit the caution statement,” John stated.

The judge then directed the jury to return a not guilty verdict on all of Smart’s charges.

On January 3, 2011, at the Serious Offences Court, the prosecution, then led by John, who was at the time a Station Sergeant of Police, withdrew the murder charge against Veira, and two days later, further instructions were given to charge key prosecution witness Otricia Smart with murder, after she allegedly refused to give testimony in the matter.

After he was discharged, two days later, Veira was again picked up by police and charged with Chirinos’ murder.(KW)

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