The two men accused of committing robbery and murder in Paraquaita Bay this month were allegedly captured on cameras inside their home brandishing an AK47 rifle similar to the weapon used to shoot and kill their alleged victim, Catherine Pickering.
Director of Public Prosecution (DDP) Tiffany Scatliffe-Esprit levelled those allegations when the accused men — 22-year-old Akeem Hopkinson and 28-year-old Shameek Grant — appeared before the Magistrate’s Court Thursday afternoon.
The Zion Hill residents stand charged for robbery, murder, and possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life.
They were not made to answer to charges in today’s court appearance as their matter is indictable (meaning triable before a judge and jury in the High Court).
The in-home camera
According to the DDP’s allegations, police investigations led them to arrest the accused men two days after the April 18 murder while they were travelling on Zion Hill public road.
A search warrant was then executed at their Zion Hill residence where police recovered a magazine containing four live rounds of 7.62 ammunition inside Hopkinsons’ room.
As a part of the search, the police also confiscated a digital video recorder. And after gaining access to the device, they reviewed its footage which showed that things really set in motion two days before Pickering was killed.
The timeline leading up to the robbery-homicide
Upon reviewing the footage, police saw Hopkinson entering his residence on April 16 with three other men including his co-accused, Grant. Hopkinson was reportedly carrying a bag from which he removed an AK47 assault rifle. He was then seen showing off the weapon to the men.
It is alleged that on the following day, Hopkinson was seen taking the gun to his bedroom in the presence of Grant and his girlfriend Teffiny Smith.
Further viewing of the footage shows Hopkins leaving his apartment on April 18 (the day of the crime). He was reportedly carrying the bag with the gun, which he placed in the storage area of the scooter before riding off.
The court heard that grant remained at the apartment and was seen on his phone on multiple occasions between 6:13 pm and 6:52 pm. Around 6:51 pm, Grant reportedly made a phone call to Hopkinson and cell site analysis placed Hopkinson in the area of Paraquita Bay at that time.
The shooting— Multiple spent shells
The DDP alleges that about 7 pm on the same day, Maricel Pickering (daughter to the deceased victim) closed her business — Big Brothers Gas Station — to head home. She had in her possession a plastic bag containing $3,100 which is said to be her day’s earnings.
She gave a ride to her employee, Shemar Richardson who is accused of feeding inside information to the perpetrators who executed the crime.
After dropping off Richardson in Gene Hill, she stopped to visit her brother whom she gave $150 from the aforementioned sum, the court heard.
When she eventually arrived at her Pariquita Bay residence which she shares with her mother, Catherine, she exited the vehicle and was startled by a male voice saying “give me the money”.
She dropped the bag and ran, the court heard.
And as she was running away, she heard several gunshots being fired at her so she sought refuge on the porch of her mother’s dwelling while screaming for help. Catherine, who was home, responded to her daughter’s screams and was fatally shot.
A motor scooter was heard leaving the scene after the gunfire abated. Police later arrived and recovered and 7.62 spent shells, which are normally associated with AK47 assault rifles.
Bantering and counting money
At 8:09 pm, Hopkinson was again seen on CCTV footage riding back to his Zion Hill apartment. Upon arriving, he took the bag with the gun — and thereafter a white plastic bag — and brought them inside.
Grant is later seen joining him inside the apartment. Hopkinson is then seen enacting what appeared to be an event and both him and Grant were laughing, the DPP said. Hopkinson was further observed opening a rubber-banded, folded paper containing money and other documents. They were then seen counting the money.
Both men then pumped their fists.
Women remove gun
Further investigations revealed that Hopkinson paid his landlord the following day. He was reportedly behind on his rent.
The court heard that CCTV footage shows two females removing the bag with the said gun and taking it outside the apartment some time after. They later returned to the apartment without it. The firearm has not been recovered to date.
And during a subsequent police interview with the accused men, Hopkinson allegedly admitted to being in the area where the robbery happened. Allegedly, he further told police that he was in possession of a gun while in Paraquita Bay and declared that it was given to him by Grant.
Both men were subsequently charged.
They are both unrepresented and is scheduled to return to court on May 27.
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