By Cecily Asson
October 20, 2009 – newsday.co.tt
HANDCUFFED murder accused Peter Garcia was yesterday morning gunned down in the yard of the Rio Claro Magistrates’ Court, by two hitmen dressed as construction workers, as he (Garcia) was being led to the court by a policeman.
The brazen, cold-blooded murder which took place at about 10.30 am, was witnessed by policemen and persons gathered outside the courthouse. The unarmed policeman who was escorting Garcia, escaped unhurt. Garcia, 30, who was once dubbed “the country’s Most Wanted,” was shot once in the leg and when he fell to the ground, one of the gunmen stood over him and fired two shots to the left side of Garcia’s head. He died on the spot. The hitmen escaped while several persons ran screaming.
While the shooting was taking place, Garcia’s attorneys Prakash Ramadhar and Jason Jackson were inside the courthouse appearing on his behalf.
“It is a shame that something like this can happen to someone who is in police custody. It is an even greater shame to someone who was declared a high risk prisoner,” Jackson said moments after the killing. Police sources said that as Garcia was being escorted to court, two men dressed in construction gear complete with helmet and reflective vests walked up to him, pulled out guns and started firing.
The police escort ran for his life, leaving Garcia to be gunned down.
The killers jumped a fence into the yard of the nearby Rio Claro Anglican Church and ran towards and got into a gold-coloured Nissan Almera car which sped off.
The body was viewed by the District Medical Officer and later removed to the Forensic Science Centre.
Garcia shot into the headlines earlier this year following the murders of brothers Jason and Gerard Garcia, Curtis Roy and Wayne Gonzlaes in Agostini Village, Rio Claro between October 2008 and April 2009.
He subsequently went on the run and remained in hiding in the Rio Claro forest for several weeks before surrendering to the police in May. Garcia was arrested but was never charged with the murders of the men and instead appeared in court in May this year, for the April 18, 2008 murder of chutney promoter Simboonath Kumar.
On the first court appearance on May 15, he was served with five warrants for failing to appear in court on charges of kidnapping and robbery.
Those matters were subsequently dismissed, a relative told Newsday.
Yesterday, Garcia re-appeared before Magistrate Joanne Connor in Rio Claro Magistrates Court on for the murder of Kumar who was murdered at a bar at Tabaquite Main Road and the attempted murder of Sherwin Wilson at Agostini Road, Rio Claro.
The matters in which he was represented by attorneys Prakash Ramadhar and Jason Jackson did not proceed yesterday because of absence of State Prosecutor Jayanti Lutchmedial.
The State was however represented by another attorney and the matter was adjourned to November 4.
Garcia’s father Harvey Huggins, 70, of Mayaro and another male relative both questioned why the men who were seen earlier lurking around the court were not questioned especially as there was no work in progress because of the rain.
“This was a definite lapse in security at the court,” Huggins said. My son was in handcuffs walking with the police when he get killed. How do you explain that?
For the entire morning, I heard these men were in an around the court, everyone thought they were workers,” Huggins said. Police mounted roadblocks in Tableland and Biche while a helicopter and tracker dogs joined in the hunt for the killers.
Efforts to contact president of the Assembly of Southern Lawyers Hendrickson Seunath SC, for comment on the killing proved futile.
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