From the Courts
June 26, 2009
Romona Caruth takes the stand

As Lokeisha Nanton took her last breaths while she hanged helplessly from a mango tree, Romona Caruth was there to hear her last request.{{more}}

“Romona, help me!” These were the words that Caruth, 22, of Glen, said Lokeisha spoke after accused murderer Patrick Lovelace raped her (Lokeisha) and left her for dead.

Caruth is the key witness in the Lokeisha Nanton murder trial, in which Patrick Lovelace has been charged.

In her detailed evidence under oath at the High Court last week, the woman, who was 15 years old at the time of the incident on July 2, 2002, told the court that she had met Lovelace while a first form student at the then Carapan Secondary School. Caruth said that Lovelace used to come to the school to train them for athletics and that is how their friendship developed.

On July 1, 2002, Caruth said she was at South River Road/Heritage Square hanging out with some friends, including Lovelace, where a carnival street party was being held. She said she went to the phone booth opposite RBTT bank where she saw Lokeisha standing. “I spoke with her for a while, then I went back to where we were liming and I introduced everyone to Lokeisha,” she said. Caruth said she and Lokeisha had met each other through a friend a year earlier.

Caruth said Lovelace bought a round of drinks for everyone in the group. She said he bought a beer for her, a Guinness stout for himself and for one Yolanda Baptiste, Malt beverages for Shanda Jackson and Lokeisha. After consuming the beverage, about an hour later, Caruth said Lokeisha told her that she was ready to go home. “I told them I was going to follow her home in Sion Hill, leaving the others at Heritage Square.

The visibly distraught Caruth, who at times picked a spot in the courtroom and stared at it, said that when they got off at the Bus stop at Sion Hill, they began walking in the direction of Knights Supermarket. “When we reach past 3B’s Bar, I heard somebody calling me and when I looked around I saw that it was Patrick. He told me to wait, so Lokeisha and me stand up. After that, he told me that he liked my friend (Lokeisha) and I must hook him up with her,” she recalled. Caruth added that she told Lovelace no, because she was underage. “When I told him so, he slapped me. I told him to go back into town and I’ll talk to him when I reach back in town,” she said.

While continuing on their sojourn to Lokeisha’s home, Caruth said Lovelace followed them. She said that they had just reached the area of the mango tree where Lokeisha’s nude body was found that dreadful morning. But before going into dreadful details of what unfolded next, Caruth asked the court for five minutes to compose herself.

She then continued: “He grabbed Lokeisha by her neck and dragged her backward into the yard underneath the mango tree. He dropped her on the ground and ripped off her top,” Caruth recounted. Re-living the horrific night, Caruth added that she tried to push Lovelace off Lokeisha, who was screaming. “He slapped Lokeisha and it seemed like it knocked her out. I tried again to push him off but he slapped me and we start to fight. I went to shake Lokeisha but she was not moving and Patrick came and shoved me away,” she related. He then removed her skirt and underwear and had sex with her, while in her unconscious state, she said.

After having sex with Lokeisha, Caruth said he ejaculated on Lokeisha’s clothes. The two days of giving evidence were apparently taking its toll on the petite Caruth, who spoke in a voice of choked up emotions. As her tears increased, Caruth said Lovelace asked her to help hang Lokeisha on the tree so it would appear as if she committed suicide. “I told him I was not going to do it, but he turn to me and said if I told anybody, he will kill me and do to me just like what he did to Lokeisha,” she said. After being threatened, Caruth said she lifted up Lokeisha while Lovelace took her (Lokeisha’s) shirt and tied it around her neck, then onto the tree.

“She was breathing a little when I held her. After he tied her, he ran and left me there. I tried to untie the knot but it was too tight,” she recounted.

Caruth said she left Lokeisha dangling from the tree and returned to Heritage Square where Lovelace was also. She said they walked down to Y De Lima where Lovelace bought her a barbeque, just before heading to Slick’s Restaurant, which was located in the Central Market. Caruth said she, Baptiste and Jackson then engaged in a wining competition while there.

Prosecution witness Yolanda Baptiste had earlier told the court in her evidence that while liming in Heritage Square, Lovelace excused himself to go to the public washroom shortly after Caruth left with Lokeisha, but never returned until nearly two hours later after. Under cross-examination by Lovelace’s lawyer, Vynette Frederick, Bapiste said when Caruth returned from Sion Hill that she looked frightened and was cold sweating. She, however, stated that Caruth appeared normal after they partied at Slicks Restaurant because she was drinking and smoking.

She said that they ended up at Yankee’s Hideout, opposite the Kingstown Methodist Church, until the sun came up. Baptiste said Caruth and Lovelace caught a Georgetown van from there and headed to Lovelace’s home. She told the court that Lovelace met her on two occasions and told her that police were at his home every minute and if they ask anything about that night, to tell them that they were never liming.

Caruth told the court that while in a van returning from Lovelace’s home in Argyle, she heard the news on the radio that they had found Lokeisha. She said later that day, she met Baptiste in Little Tokyo and told her something. Caruth added that Baptiste took her to a police officer who she told about Lokeisha because she could not hold it inside any longer.

While cross-examining Caruth, Frederick suggested that Caruth concocted the whole story of what took place that night. The young attorney said that Caruth had given the police five previous statements implicating other men as Lokeisha’s killer. Caruth told the court that she could not recall all the statements she gave, but told the court she mentioned other names because she was scared for her life as Lovelace had threatened her and she did not want him to get into any trouble.

Head investigating Officer, Inspector Sydney James, a Sergeant at the time, told the court that he interviewed Lovelace in November 2002. James said that the accused denied Caruth ever visited his home on July 2 or that he was ever in the company of Caruth and Baptiste that night. James said he then brought Caruth and Baptiste in front of Lovelace to tell their story. He said Lovelace called Caruth a liar and said that he did not know what she was talking about. Lovelace was arrested in September 2003.

The case continues on Monday, June 29, at the High Court. Bayliss Frederick also represents Lovelace in the matter.

This is the second time Lovelace is being tried for Lokeisha’s murder. In 2005, he was found guilty by the High Court. However, the first trial was over turned by the Court of Appeal and a re-trial ordered in 2006.