After almost 5 years in jail, taxi driver freed of Teacher’s murder

After almost five years on remand, 51-year-old taxi driver Matthew Munroe was on Tuesday found not guilty of the November 2017 murder of 23-year-old Richard Ishmael Secondary School teacher, Kescia Branche.

Munroe of Diamond, East Bank Demerara (EBD), was indicted on Tuesday morning for the capital offence of murder following his arraignment before Justice Sandil Kissoon at the High Court in Demerara.

A jury was thereafter selected to hear the case after Munroe entered a not guilty plea. However, Justice Kissoon indicated that the prosecution was unable to locate some key witnesses and therefore would be unable to prove the elements of the offence.

As such, the Judge directed the jury to return a formal verdict of not guilty.

Munroe was represented by attorneys-at-law Dexter Todd, Dexter Smartt, Jevon Cox and Shercola Exeter. Senior State Counsel Abigail Gibb in association with State Counsel Taneisha Sagon and State Counsel Mohammed Ali appeared on behalf of the prosecution.

Branche, a mother of one, formerly of Cummings Lodge, Greater Georgetown, was found lying on Cemetery Road, Georgetown obliquely opposite the Le Repentir Cemetery office, at around 5 am on November 5, 2017. She was last seen after she left for a night out with friends. The Teacher succumbed to her injuries on November 7, 2017, in the Intensive Care Unit of the Georgetown Public Hospital. An autopsy revealed that she died as a result of brain haemorrhaging and blunt trauma.

Initially, the police picked up the father of Branche’s child and two police officers; they were all released.

The Taxi Driver was picked up on his return from a vacation. His number appeared several times in Branche’s phone and he left for vacation around the same time Branche was found unconscious, making him a prime suspect. Further, reports are that Munroe’s car was impounded with a missing bumper which he claimed was damaged when he drove into a pothole on the East Coast. However, he could not show the police the location.

In October 2018, Munroe was committed to stand trial for Branche’s murder after Principal Magistrate Judy Latchman ruled that there was sufficient evidence against him at the end of a Preliminary Inquiry.