As he stood in the dock of the No. 2 Supreme Court this morning, Hakeem Roberto Stuart admitted that while he lied to police about some details, he was not the person who gunned down Damian Trotman in Sheraton Mall two years ago.
In an unsworn statement from the dock, Stuart maintained his innocence saying he had never been convicted of any criminal offence and was not responsible for shooting Trotman.
Stuart, 24, of Shelbourne Gap, St Lawrence, Christ Church, is accused of murdering Trotman on March 21, 2019.
In recounting much of what he said in his statement to police, he told the 12-member jury that on the day Trotman was killed he visited the popular Christ Church mall with his father. He was wearing a red shirt, red pants and red shoes.
He said after leaving the mall and meeting a man he knew as ‘Pile’ to buy some “weed”, he called his friend Aziza to pick him up.
“While in the Briar Hall area I called Aziza and asked her to collect me. Before I began to smoke I took off my shirt because I knew that smoke clings to clothing, especially my shirt, when I smoke. I also knew that Aziza’s child suffers from asthma so I did this to avoid any arguments about my smoking habits with Aziza again,” he said.
Stuart said shortly after he began to smoke he heard police sirens in the area.
He told the court he began to get nervous as he had been shot at by police the week before.
“I wanted to leave the general area sooner rather than later remembering all too well the bad experience I had with police just the week before and also I had weed on me, so I called Aziza again,” Stuart said.
“When Aziza turn up I throw on my shirt not caring if it was on the wrong side or not because it was a two-toned shirt, red on the inside and black on the outside, and we were just going home.”
He said when the police began to give chase he became nervous as he still had the illegal drugs on him and “it takes nothing for police to come around you with nonsense”.
Stuart said after going to Rico John’s house, where he was eventually apprehended by police, he lied about not having a cell phone because he had messages in his phone about buying illegal drugs.
He explained that he did not want people to feel he had sent the police to their house.
“I went to John Doe’s house, also known as Rico John, where the police came. At John Doe’s house when the police asked me about my cellphone I denied any knowledge whatsoever about the cell phone because I knew they were messages in my cell phone indicating my arrangements to buy weed from Pile and the police would probably search his house. So, I lied about the cell phone to prevent anybody, especially Pile from saying I sent the police by their place because that’s the first thing people say,” Stuart said.
He said when he was arrested by police he was beaten about his head and face.
Stuart said it was only while he was in police custody that he found out there had been a shooting in Sheraton Mall after several of his friends called him and told him about the incident.
“I have never been convicted of any criminal offences. I did not shoot Damian Trotman,” the accused man maintained.
Stuart’s attorney-at-law Andrew Pilgrim, KC, today closed his case for the defence.
Both Pilgrim and Director of Public Prosecutions Donna Babb-Agard, who is appearing on behalf of the State along with State Counsel Romario Straker, are expected to give their closing arguments on Thursday.
Justice Carlisle Greaves is the presiding judge.