Magistrate Judy Latchman was forced to adjourn her court, due to uncontrollable outbursts and interruptions from Regan Rodrigues, the man accused of murdering political activist Courtney Crum-Ewing, during the testimony of Police Assistant Superintendent Mitchell Caesar, as the recently re-opened preliminary inquiry into the murder, continued yesterday.
Caesar, who was the first witness invited to the stand by Special Prosecutor Nigel Hughes, was cut short in his testimony by Rodrigues who began to hurl insulting remarks at him. The Assistant Superintendent who tried on several occasions to speak, eventually gave up and told the court that he would be unable to testify if the accused continued in this manner. Caesar stepped out of the witness box, and eventually left the court room upon the instruction of the magistrate, as she tried to calm the accused.
Rodrigues, who was still arguing, was told by Magistrate Latchman that he needed to control himself, and allow the witness to give his testimony. Rodrigues refused to listen to the magistrate’s instructions and continued shouting, as his mother was called forward by the magistrate to help calm him down.
Eventually everyone in the courtroom, save for Magistrate Latchman, Hughes and the orderlies, were asked to leave, so as to bring order to the courtroom.
After some amount of normalcy had returned, and the magistrate was ready to resume hearing testimony, she was informed that Caesar had left the building.
The magistrate who was visibly upset, told the prosecutor that the act of his witness leaving the Magistrates’ Court was “not nice,” especially coming from an Assistant Superintendent of Police.
“Tell your witness it is not the polite thing to leave.,” Magistrate Latchman told Hughes.
Rodrigues, who started to argue again, told the court that he is innocent and questioned whether he would have to prove his innocence again.
The accused later turned to Crum-Ewing’s family who were seated in courtroom and told them to find their son’s killer.
“The killers are out there…y’all leave me alone!” Rodrigues shouted.
Magistrate Latchman, who did not tell Rodrigues when he will be returning to court, quickly departed the bench.
Those who enquired of an adjourned date for the matter were informed by the prosecutor that the matter will return to court on May 8.
The DPP reopened the case about three weeks ago, and in a statement had said that the sole purpose of reopening the case is to take further evidence from police witnesses and to rule on the voluntariness of all oral statements of the accused.
Rodrigues was charged in July, 2015, with unlawful possession of a pistol and 14 live rounds of ammunition. The gun was later reported to have been linked to the murder of Crum-Ewing and formed the basis for the murder charge. However, he was cleared of the weapon charge in January last year.
Rodrigues was sentenced to three years in prison for the crime of escaping lawful custody. This matter was appealed, and at the time of his arrest, Rodrigues was out on bail pending the appeal.
Crum-Ewing was killed on the evening of March 10, 2015 at Diamond, East Bank Demerara, as he was urging residents to vote in the May, 2015 elections.
He was shot five times, including three shots to the head.