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Woman freed of murder after 12 years in jail
Minutes after being freed on a murder charge yesterday, Ira Mitchell, who spent 12 years in prison awaiting trial, appealed to the authorities to expedite the court process.
She made the appeal just after she walked out of the San Fernando High Court into the arms of family members.
Mitchell, 39, went on trial last month charged with the murder of her uncle-in-law Balo Seurattan, who died from a broken neck 18 years ago at their Princes Town home. However, it took the jury less than an hour of deliberations to return a not guilty verdict.
“You are free to go,” said Justice Hayden St Clair-Douglas after he discharged Mitchell.
Mitchell said afterwards, “I am so happy to be freed today. It not easy to prove your innocence in a country like this, where so much crime going on and they just want to blame Peter for Paul. It really hard.”
Praising God for her freedom, she added, “I pray the rest of the ladies in the prison system right now could get through because it have a lot of innocent people sit down in prison. It not easy sitting down in prison knowing that you are innocent.
“People taking plea bargains not because they guilty, they are taking the plea bargains just because they are fed up...I really think the ministers ought to do something about this situation. People waiting for court dates for five, six, ten years, you sit down just waiting for a court date.”
She said her faith gave her the strength to survive prison.
“If I was a weak heart I would have just throw in everything and take a manslaughter or murder felony or something, because you so tired of it. It not easy. The women suffering, the men suffering and they need to do something about this situation.”
Mitchell also thanked lawyers Rekha Ramjit and Jared Ali for believing in her.
Mitchell was charged in 2006 following a coroner’s inquest. Her husband was also charged, but he was freed about seven years ago. Mitchell, who discovered Seurattan’s lifeless body on the bed, told police he was sick in the days prior to his death. She said on the day he died he had fallen twice and got a cut above his eyebrow.
The state’s case against her was based on circumstantial evidence. State attorney Sabrina Jaglal and Selywn Richardson led evidence from forensic pathologist Dr Hughvon Des Vignes, who said Seurattan’s injuries could not have been caused by a fall.
However, pathologist Hubert Daisley, who was called as a defence witness, testified that Seurattan’s injuries could have been caused by a low level fall.
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