In one of the most high-profile murder cases adjudicated in the High Court in recent times, Hakeem Roberto Stuart was on Tuesday found guilty of the brazen, daylight killing of Damian Trotman in Sheraton Mall more than three and a half years ago.
It took a 12-member jury just over three and a half hours of deliberation to find Stuart guilty, following a trial that lasted four days shy of a month and saw over 50 witnesses giving evidence.
Stuart, 24, of Shelbourne Gap, St Lawrence, Christ Church, had denied murdering Trotman on March 21, 2019.
Sitting in the dock of the No. 3 Supreme Court, Stuart, clad in a mustard pants, a mustard and black patterned button-down shirt and brown boat shoes, and wearing a mask as he did throughout the trial, had shown no emotion when the foreman delivered the guilty verdict.
He only bowed his head as he was led away by two prison officers moments later.
His father was also present for the verdict.
Justice Carlisle Greaves, who presided over the matter, ordered a pre-sentencing report to be completed by January 20, 2023, and for Stuart’s antecedents and custody records to be provided to the court by January 22, 2023.
He said Stuart would be sentenced on January 27, 2023.
Speaking to Barbados TODAY shortly after exiting the courtroom, King’s Counsel Andrew Pilgrim who represented Stuart did not immediately reveal whether he planned to appeal the decision.
“We will watch the process and take instructions,” he said in a brief response.
Trotman’s killing had sent shockwaves through the country as he had been gunned down around 2 p.m. in the busy Sheraton Mall, just a few feet away from where several blind persons were conducting interviews with the media.
Stuart, who was arrested hours after the shooting, was arraigned on June 22, 2021, and pleaded not guilty.
The highly anticipated trial began on October 26, 2022, and on the opening day, three police officers who took photographs of several areas connected to the case gave evidence.
Stuart maintained his innocence throughout, insisting he was not the shooter.
He admitted in his testimony that he was at the mall on the day the murder occurred and was wearing a red shirt, red pants and red shoes.
He said that while at the Christ Church shopping centre, he withdrew money from an ATM, went to a candy store and then to Digicel.
Stuart testified that he then left the mall and walked to the Briar Hall, Christ Church area and called Aziza Clarke for a ride.
And while there were no eyewitnesses who pinpointed Stuart as the man clad in a white long-sleeved shirt, red pants and red shoes that pulled the trigger, the evidence as outlined by Director of Public Prosecutor Donna Babb-Agard and State Counsel Romario Straker and the prosecution’s witnesses proved enough to get a conviction.
Video footage of the shooting and Stuart’s movements throughout the mall were presented as evidence, while pictures that were taken by the now-deceased photographer Christoff Griffith on the day of the shooting were also admitted.