A CUNUPIA man who spent almost 13 years in prison for a 2010 murder has been released after a High Court judge accepted a plea deal and sentenced him to time already spent, while his co-accused has just under four more years to serve.
Parasram Babwah and Kevin Boodoo were before Justice Gail Gonzales in the Port of Spain High Court for the June 22, 2010, murder of Chunilal Maharaj, 25, a straightener and painter, of Alligator Road, Cunupia. They were sentenced on Wednesday.
Both men had entered plea discussions with the Director of Public Prosecutions in March 2021, offering to plead guilty to felony murder at the fast-track court established by the Judiciary back in 2018 as a way to start reducing the backlog in the system.
An indictment was filed in March 2022 and a year later, the DPP accepted the plea.
Boodoo was represented by public defenders Khadija Beddeau and Collin Elbourne. Babwah was represented by public defenders Nicholas Rampersadsingh and Aleena Ramjag.
In sentencing the two men, Gonzales began with a starting-point sentence which took into consideration some of the aggravating features of the offence: there was some premeditation, the offence was for gain and a weapon was used.
They received downward adjustments for their ages, the time they spent in custody, their behaviour before being charged and while in prison, and a one-third discount for their guilty pleas.
Boodoo, who would have had five more months to serve, had that discounted because of his remorse and his apology to Maharaj’s family and friends. He was sentenced to time served, while Babwah has three years, eight months and six days left on his sentence.
Maharaj had gone to a mini-mart close to his home, at 7.12 pm, when three men walked up pretending to be customers. Boodoo entered Maharaj’s car and another man went to the driver’s side while the third tried to get in the back. The latter shot Maharaj in the chest as he ran to his car.
The men drove off while Maharaj ran back to the mini-mart, where he collapsed. He later died in hospital of gunshot wounds to the lung and heart.
One witness, who ran a burger cart outside the mini-mart. The incident while the mini-mart’s owner said Maharaj was a regular customer and gave police the recording from a recently installed DVR camera surveillance system. He, too, was not able to identify the assailants.
When arrested, Babwah admitted to driving the car, while Boodoo said he was heading home after visiting his girlfriend when he met the two other men in Chaguanas and they took a taxi together. He stopped at Munroe Road and told police a man he identified as “Brad” saw a car with “all the music in it,” showed him a gun, telling him he was going to take the car.
“I did have no remarks to say and he cork up (shoot) the man. Brad told the man, the owner of the car, 'Do not come close to the car.' There where the man run into Brad and Brad shoot him twice.”
Asked by acting Sgt Windell Flaviney, who did the interview, if he had agreed to shoot Maharaj, Boodoo said when it