Accused found guilty of killing South Road hotel owner

Bryan Leitch

Accused Bryan Leitch was yesterday afternoon unanimously convicted by a jury for the unlawful killing of hotel owner Joseph Jagdeo, whose bound and gagged body was found under a bed in one of the rooms of his hotel.

After two hours of deliberations, a 12-member jury returned a unanimous verdict to acquit Leitch of the capital offence but convicted him instead, on the lesser charge of manslaughter.

His sentencing has, however, been deferred until May 2nd to facilitate the presentation of a probation report.

The charge against the 24-year-old had been that he murdered Jagdeo at his South Central Hotel, located at Lot 218 South Road, Georgetown, sometime between November 13th and November 14th, 2013.

At the close of the prosecution’s case on Monday, Leitch, after being called upon to lead a defence, professed his innocence, telling the court that he knew nothing about the murder.

Joseph Jagdeo

In unsworn testimony from the prisoner’s dock, he declared that he knew nothing about the murder and had not killed anyone.

In his testimony during the trial, Detective Sergeant Keith Conway had testified that Leitch admitted to killing the hotel owner and had claimed that it was unintentional and that he was sorry for it.

According to Conway, though Leitch had initially said he knew nothing about the killing, he subsequently told investigators that Jagdeo had asked him to leave, which angered him.

The witness had said Leitch related that as a result he held him down, stuffed and tied his mouth with a pillowcase, tied his hands together, and pushed him under the bed.

Conway said the accused then related leaving the room key on the bed, after which he took the dead man’s cellular phone before leaving.

According to the witness, the accused declared, “Me ain’t guh fuh kill he… I sorry fuh wah happen.”

Former employee of the hotel Wendell Eastman had told the court that Leitch had been a guest of the hotel, having checked into Room 9 with a female companion.

Owing to an argument with the woman, however, Eastman said he was instructed by Jagdeo to give Leitch the keys to Room 10, as the woman no longer wanted him staying with her.

The argument, he said, stemmed from the woman accusing Leitch of stealing Jagdeo’s cell phone.

It was in this room that Jagdeo’s body would later be discovered under the bed.

In his testimony, Eastman had said that while the key for that room could not initially be found, it was later located on the bed.

Meanwhile, in her testimony, Keanna Garnett had said that she was present when the accused sold a cellphone to one of her friends, whom she identified as Shantel De Jonge.

The witness said that she and De Jonge were standing on the road when the accused, also a friend, approached and asked De Jonge if she wanted a phone to purchase.

The young woman said that her friend responded in the affirmative, and thereafter collected the cellphone, after handing Leitch $2,000.

She told the court that after the sale of the phone, the accused instructed her friend not to answer the phone if anyone called.

The case is being heard by Justice Sandil Kissoon at the High Court in Georgetown.

Leitch is being represented by attorneys Lawrence Harris and Hewley Griffith.

The state’s case, meanwhile, was presented by Prosecutor Mandel Moore, in association with Lisa Cave.

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