The trial of Ramesh Muniram, called ‘Bobby,’ who was charged with the 2010 murder of his wife Sunita August began on Monday before Justice Navindra Singh and a 12-member jury in the High Court.
Muniram, who was indicted for the murder of August on January 13, 2010, has pleaded not guilty to the crime. August’s body was found the following day in the channel of the Nismes, West Bank Demerara koker.
On Monday, Lorrain Moore, a sister of the deceased, said that on the day of the murder she received a phone call from one of her cousins, Rita Davis, and as a result of the information she received she called her sister’s phone but it went straight to voicemail. She said that she then called the accused’s phone, but that also went straight to voicemail.
The woman told the court that she then left and went to her cousin’s home and based on information she received she went to Nismes, then to the West Demerara Regional Hospital and that is where she saw the body of her sister laying on a table. Moore also testified that on January 15th she went to the Georgetown Public Hospital’s mortuary where she identified the body and on January 18th, attended her burial. The woman said that her sister’s three children are now left in her care.
Khemwattie Raghobir, the mother of the accused also testified that she was at home when the accused came and told her that he and his wife had just had sex and she went to wash herself off and fell into the water. He told her that he couldn’t swim, and he left and went away.
Senior State Prosecutor Judith Gildharie-Mursalin made an application under the Evidence Act to put the prior statement to the witness, but Justice Singh said that this will not succeed as the witness can neither read nor write and will not be able to identify the statement.
Under cross-examination, Raghobir had said that the police had put her thumb to the statement but she did not know what was on the paper as she could not read or write.
Lakeram Persaud, the accused’s brother-in-law, had told the court that on the day of the murder he received certain information which caused him to go to Lot 52 Unity Street, La Grange, where the accused lived with his mother. He said that he searched the bushes and later in the afternoon whilst he was lying in a hammock at the house, he heard the accused calling him. The man said that he went to him and the accused asked him for some water and he promised to return but instead went to the La Grange Police Station to make a report. He said the next afternoon the accused’s aunt told him something and based on what she told him he and several other persons went to the accused and told him not to run, as they were going to take him to the station.
Yesterday, Lance Corporal Paul Watson testified that he witnessed the caution statement of the accused being taken. Watson told the court that he was stationed at the La Grange Police Station on the 13th January, 2010 and at about 4:00pm and relative to a report made, he and a party of police went to the Nismes koker where he found several pieces of clothing and female underwear. He subsequently left and went back to the station.
Watson said that at about 5:30pm the same day he received another call and based on that call he went back to the koker where he found the body of a female floating in the water. He said that the body was pulled out and taken to the West Demerara Regional Hospital, where she was pronounced dead on arrival. The man said that a sister of the deceased, Lorrain August, later identified the body.
According to Watson, the following day, he was at La Grange Police Station when the accused was taken there by one Lakeram Persaud and other persons. He said that Corporal Cranston Fraser called him into a room and said that the accused wanted to give a statement and asked him to be present. Watson said that he also witnessed the post-mortem examination on the 15th of January. Based on his statement, the post-mortem report was tendered through him.
Corporal Cranston Fraser also testified that he took the caution statement from the accused. An application was then made by the prosecution to tender the caution statement but defence counsel Bernard De Santos has challenged the admissibility of the statement.
The trial will continue today with a voir dire (trial within a trial in the absence of the jury) to determine the admissibility of the caution statement.