Justice Geoffrey Henderson –
TWO decades after he was accused of shooting a man, leaving him paralysed, a Barataria man was acquitted by a Port of Spain jury.
Kevin Rush, 38, was on trial before Justice Geoffrey Henderson before a nine-member jury on a four-count indictment of attempted murder, shooting with intent, and possession of a firearm and ammunition.
It was alleged he shot his former schoolmate Nikosi Issac on January 13, 2004, at Second Caledonia, Morvant.
It was the State’s case that Rush and two others approached Issac, and there was a confrontation about a woman. It was alleged that Rush, who was standing with a gun in his left hand, pointed the gun at Issac and squeezed the trigger three times before he felt a burning sensation in his back.
It was further alleged that Issac saw Rush Bruce Wane\run while he stayed on the ground before the police arrived and took him to the Port of Spain General Hospital.
At the trial, Issac was deemed a hostile witness after he claimed he never gave a statement identifying Rush as the shooter.
It was alleged by the State that Issac on three occasions – the night of the shooting, again in a statement at the hospital 11 days later and during a confrontation exercise also at the hospital – told police that Rush shot him.
At the trial, Issac was cross-examined by lead prosecutor Brandon Sookoo on his previous statement as well as the evidence at the preliminary inquiry at which he also gave similar evidence identifying Rush as his shooter.
Rush, who was arrested by police on February 14, 2004, denied shooting anyone.
The trial in the Port of Spain High Court began on December 4, 2023, when a jury was empanelled, and although Issac told the judge, in their absence, the wrong man was before the court, the trial proceeded.
Issac came to court in a wheelchair.
In his evidence, he denied giving police the 2004 statement and distanced himself from the evidence at the magistrates’ court.
He insisted he never told the police Rush shot him, saying it was someone else who did. He also said he told three former prosecutors assigned to the case the wrong man was on trial.
According to his evidence at the trial, he said he told the police he was shot by someone whose name he did not know, and the only person he knew that night was Rush, as they both had gone to secondary school together. He also said his back was turned when he got shot.
Also questioned were the police officers who charged Rush and were present at the confrontation exercise at the Port of Spain General Hospital, where it was alleged Issac pointed out his former schoolmate as his shooter.
One of the officers, PC Neville Arcia, was asked about a station diary entry where Rush’s name was not mentioned as the shooter.
The prosecution also tendered the formal statements of the doctor who operated on Issac, removing the bullet from his spine, the firearms expert who identified it as a .38 calibre ammunition and a police photographer.
After deliberating for almost an hour, the jury returned not-guilty verdicts on all four counts.
Rush was represented by attorneys Chase Pegus and Danyal Mohammed while Dillon Martin and Samantha Maharaj also appeared for the State.