By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
A MAN who fatally stabbed another man in the head with a screwdriver during a fight at a tyre shop in Nassau Village was sentenced to 18 years in prison yesterday.
Justice Bernard Turner initially had given 22-year-old Kevin Smith 20 years in prison after noting that this case was not “the worst of the worst” and believed that, due to the circumstances, could fall under the normal minimum range of 30 years set out by the higher courts.
Due to Smith having already served two years on remand from the time of his arrest, his remand time was subtracted from his sentence and he will serve 18 years at Her Majesty’s Prison beginning from the date of his conviction, September 26.
Smith of Alexandria Boulevard was unanimously convicted of the August 12, 2010 stabbing death of Garnell Clarke, which occurred during an argument.
Prosecutors Eucal Bonaby and Paul Jones alleged that Smith was the aggressor in the incident while Smith, and defending attorney Anthony Newbold, maintained that he had acted in self defence.
Justice Bernard Turner deferred sentencing until November 28 for the probation report to be presented to the court before passing sentence on Smith.
The probation officer gave a summary of the report, noting Smith’s struggle with smoking and alcohol. He acknowledged Smith’s ability to find gainful employment after being expelled from high school in the 10th grade.
The officer also reported that Smith said he had not intended for the fight to end the way it did.
Mr Bonaby asked the probation officer if Smith showed any remorse for the killing. The officer said that no remorse was shown for the crime as the convict only indicated that he had no intentions of killing Garnell Clarke.
Following the report, Mr Newbold told the court that his client had something he wanted to say to the court.
Smith apologized to the court for the life that was lost and he went on to say that he wished to address the deceased’s mother who had moments ago left court and could be heard crying on the outside.
Ms Clarke entered court in tears and sat down as Smith turned to address her.
“Ms Clarke, I’m sorry for the loss of life of your son. I aint mean for it to go that way” the man said. He said it was not his intention for the fight to end the way it did.
“Why did you have to kill him? You stab him up so much times,” Ms Clarke sobbed.
Justice Turner interrupted and Mr Newbold continued his submissions before the judge adjourned the sentencing to December 3 for further consideration.
In yesterday’s proceeding, Justice Turner said that looking at the case itself and the circumstances surrounding the incident, Smith’s actions could not be considered the “worst of the worst.”
However, speaking on the issue of being intoxicated and impaired by drugs, he said the jury’s verdict is an indication that Smith’s actions were not the result of drugs.
The judge also noted that a great degree of force was used during the stabbing as Clarke was stabbed multiple times in the head to the point that the wounds went to the base of the skull.
In determining the sentence, Justice Turner noted Smith’s age, time spent on remand, unblemished criminal record prior to the current conviction and the report of the probation officer where it was stated that Smith could be rehabilitated.
Justice Turner also took into account that Smith expressed remorse for what happened and his apology to the victim’s mother.
In the end, the judge said Smith, based on the circumstances and various factors, could be given a sentence under the range by the Court of Appeal based on recent rulings.
Smith was sentenced to 20 years in prison, which was reduced by two years after the judge took into account the convict’s time on remand.