Fri | Nov 22, 2019

10 years slashed from teen killer's sentence

Published:Thursday | June 28, 2018 | 12:00 AMLivern Barrett/Senior Gleaner Writer

The Court of Appeal has cut 10 years off the 18-year prison sentence handed to a woman who, as a 15-year-old, used a knife to stab her six-year-old half-brother to death at their St Andrew home in a crime that shocked the nation.

Further, the court ordered that June 7, 2013 - the same date the teen was sentenced in the Home Circuit Court - should be regarded as the day she began serving her prison term.

Attorney Obika Gordon, who, along with his father, Linton, represented the woman, said that prison authorities have indicated that based on her record, she is scheduled to be released in September. The woman's name has not been released because she was a minor when the offence was committed.

Court records revealed that she pleaded guilty to manslaughter in April 2013 and was sentenced to 18 years in prison for plunging a knife into the chest and neck of her six-year-old half-brother Howard Johnson Jr at their Jones Town home in 2011.

"He died as a result of a haemopneumothorax (blood and air in the chest cavity) and external bleeding," court records revealed.

That same day, in the presence of an attorney, the teen gave a statement to police investigators indicating that the killing was "revenge for the way in which the boy's mother (her stepmother) treated her", prosecutors said.

But after entering her plea of guilty, the teen's attorney at the time offered two other motives, including allegations that the six-year-old boy found out that she was being sexually abused by a relative and taunted her about it. The other account was that the six-year-old had a habit of biting his sister.

The Court of Appeal, in slashing the sentence, said that the trial judge wrongfully took into account "some aspects" of the prosecution's case. "He ought not to have done so," the Appeal Court found. In addition, the court said that it does not appear that the judge used an "appropriate" starting point before arriving at the 18-year sentence.

livern.barrett@gleanerjm.com