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Marco's Killer Sentenced To Death

Kofhe Goodman at an earlier court appearance.

Kofhe Goodman at an earlier court appearance.

By LAMECH JOHNSON

Tribune Staff Reporter

ljohnson@tribunemedia.net

ABDUCTING a child, fracturing his skull with a blow to the head, placing a bag around his head and discarding his naked, lifeless body in bushes can be considered to be “the worst of the worst”, Justice Bernard Turner ruled yesterday before sentencing Kofhe Goodman to hang for the murder of Marco Archer.

Justice Turner, in considering the death penalty, regarded the mitigating factors and the circumstances of the case – Goodman’s previous convictions for unnatural carnal knowledge in 1993, attempted murder and causing grievous harm in August 1998 – and was “satisfied that the circumstances of this case require that a penalty be imposed.”

“This case is a clear and compelling case for the ultimate sentence of death, to satisfy the requirements of due punishment for the murder of this child and to protect this society from any further predatory conduct by this convict at any time in the future.

“Kofhe Edwardo Ferguson Goodman, I hereby sentence you to suffer death in the manner authorised by law.”

‘Justice Served’

When asked for a comment on Goodman’s death sentence, Tryphemia Meadows, the mother of 11-year-old Marco Archer and family spokesperson, said “I feel good about that, but then it can’t bring back.”

The consolation for her family, however, that the man who murdered her son “wouldn’t be on the street no more to hurt no other little boys in the Bahamas.”

Garvin Gaskin, deputy director of public prosecutions and lead prosecutor, was commended by the family for his and the prosecution’s efforts in the trial and sentencing.

His thoughts on the 30-minute ruling was that “it was an absolutely just verdict.”

“It’s unfortunate that it can’t bring Marco back, but at least it’s a step towards some closure for the family in particular.”

Mr Gaskin, at 5pm yesterday, joined his seniors, Attorney General Allyson Maynard Gibson and Director of Public Prosecutions, Vinette Graham-Allen, in a press conference in a boardroom of the Attorney General’s office.

Mrs Maynard-Gibson said that “justice was served in the Bahamas” following the imposition of the death penalty to Goodman and quoted the last words of Justice Tuner before sentencing Goodman to death.

“This case is a clear and compelling case for the ultimate sentence of death, to satisfy the requirements of due punishment for the murder of this child and to protect this society from any further predatory conduct by this convict at any time in the future.

“The government is committed to carrying out the most aggressive anti-crime programme that this country has ever seen,” she said, adding that the execution of justice “is a top priority for this government.”

However, the Attorney General said that she would not “presuppose the decision of the Court of Appeal” when asked the question on social media and in the public domain, “what is the likelihood that Kofhe Goodman will get the death penalty.”

“I don’t want to presuppose the decision of the Court of Appeal if the matter will be appealed, and we anticipate that it will be, or the Privy Council,” she said.

“What we simply want to do is remind the public that in this country we do have a separation of powers and it is entirely up to the judiciary, which, of course, includes the Court of Appeal and Privy Council, to determine whether or not the judgment of the Supreme Court will be upheld.”

“I can assure the public that, we as I said, will fight abuse of process. We will expedite the execution of those appeals. We will strongly fight to support the decision of the Supreme Court every step of the way.”

‘Is this Justice?’

Goodman, who stood when asked by the judge passing sentence, had no reaction when the sentence of death was handed down by the Supreme Court judge.

He took his seat in the prisoner’s dock as his lawyer, Geoffrey Farquharson, indicated his client’s intention to appeal both conviction and sentence.

Mr Farquharson asked the court to make an order for the Superintendent of the Prison to retain Goodman’s status as a remand prisoner, and not a condemned one, on the basis of established practices and pending appeal.

Garvin Gaskin, Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions and lead prosecutor in the Marco Archer case, asked the court if Mr Farquharson had produced any authority cases or law to support this.

Justice Turner, however, said he would take the matter under advisement before ordering Mr Farquharson to return to court on November 26 to explain his conduct throughout the course of the trial.

Outside of the Supreme Court after his client was escorted back to a holding cell, Mr Farquharson addressed the media about the next move to the Court of Appeal following the death penalty being handed down.

“There are a number of grounds for appeal,” he said.

“Whether the evidence of identity, the DNA evidence and the other identification evidence ought to have been allowed in this trial, is clearly an issue for the Court of Appeal.”

The lawyer said the grounds of appeal would range from matters of complicated law to very simple and straightforward matters, like “there was a fight in the jury deliberations in this matter, a fist fight.”

He claims that matter should’ve been withdrawn from the jury as soon as the alleged incident had taken place. The lawyer also claimed that the bailiff for the court was out for the majority of the trial, leaving supervision of the jury to policemen.

“At the end of the day, we got an extraordinary situation in which a woman who had sat on the jury for four months, and who had told the judge that she had no relationship to any of the parties in this matter, derided my client by indicating that the alleged deceased child was her cousin.”

“This is a matter which is tainted by impropriety from beginning to end,” he claimed, further questioning the appropriateness of a judge presiding over a case being prosecuted by a former colleague and “best friend.”

“Is this justice or is this bringing justice into disrepute?” the lawyer asked.

When asked by The Tribune about the emotional state of his client considering what had been said about him in public since the case came before the courts, the lawyer said: “Goodman is very upset.”

“He knows he didn’t do this offence and he knows that things are being said about him, what is being said in this case, is completely false,” the lawyer claimed.

“Mr Goodman is no saint, but the system of justice wasn’t made for saints. It is in how we deal with persons who are not saints, that tell us whether we have a sound justice system or not,” the lawyer said.

Arguments on Goodman’s Fate

Goodman, who turned 39 last week, stood trial between April 17 and August 2 for the murder of Marco Archer. He was found guilty.

Between September 23 and September 28, 2011, Goodman killed 11-year-old Marco Archer, of Brougham Street.

Goodman’s sentencing was adjourned on two occasions with both being called “a political show trial” and “disgraceful state of affairs” by Goodman’s lawyer, Geoffrey Farquharson in reference to the delay in probation and psychiatric reports.

In last week’s submissions before Justice Turner, Mr Gaskin said the Crown’s case was that Marco Archer was abducted, kidnapped, and eventually murdered for the “sadistic sexual gratification” of the convict.

He said Goodman left Archer “in the bush rotting like an animal until police discovered his naked dead body.”

“He (Marco) deserved to live. He deserved to make a positive difference, to realise his potential,” Mr Gaskin said, adding that he deserved to go to the store, buy his candy and return home.

“Is Marco’s life of any lesser value than a convict? No,” said the prosecutor.

Mr Gaskin, to the objection of Mr Farquharson, recalled the evidence behind Goodman’s previous convictions where the victims in those cases were around the same age as Marco Archer.

The prosecutor then referred to the psychiatric report which noted that the convict’s thoughts were “entirely coherent and goal directed” and his memory recall “had been demonstrated to be appropriate.”

The prosecutor asked the court to consider 20 years of Goodman’s life and submitted that there was no reform.

“He has displayed and continued to display a propensity for violence,” he said.

Goodman was said to have used obscene language, assaulted police, and acted in a disorderly manner.

“We say that the defendant is a menace to society, a predator,” the prosecution concluded, submitting to the court that he should suffer death for his actions.

In response to these submissions, Goodman’s lawyer asked the court if the offence in this case, based on the circumstances, could be deemed “worst of the worst”, according to the standards of common or statute law?

He said it could not be so because there were other offences in worse circumstances that had not warranted the death penalty by the law or the London-based Privy Council.

Mr Farquharson said that for the murder of a child, the statute law to which the Crown referred “is not considered the worst of the worst.”

“In fact it is not even in the Act,” he said, adding that it was a travesty “that the prosecution has sought the death penalty in this matter.”

He dismissed the prosecution’s submissions as a public relations exercise designed to “fool the public into believing that there was some kidnapping or abduction.”

“If it were it would’ve been charged,” he said, and submitted that evidence in the trial revealed that there was nothing produced to say that the body was sexually assaulted.

He added that there was also no definitive evidence of how the child had died.

“The fact that there are absolutely no proven facts to the manner of death assures it cannot be a death penalty case.”

Justice Turner’s Decision

In a ruling that lasted nearly 30 minutes, Justice Turner yesterday read his 15-page decision into the ruling concerning the consideration of the death penalty, life imprisonment, or a term of years for the convict.

After recalling the evidence in the trial that led up to a conviction, the judge responded to the submissions made by counsel, who had referred to amended law where the legislature had categorised a case where the “worst of the worst” murder cases could be determined based on the circumstances, robbery, rape, kidnapping, terrorism or any other felony.

“Having considered the evidence, I agree that the evidence establishes that the deceased was kidnapped. This aspect of the matter does not necessarily require an actual charge of kidnapping, if the evidence establishes that in fact kidnaping took place.”

The court further noted that the case can be considered the “worst of the worst” because of “the abduction and murder of an 11-year-old child who met his death by some combination of a blow to his head which caused the fracture of one of the hardest bones in his still developing skull and the placement of a plastic bag around his entire head.”

“At some point, this child would have had his clothes removed, leaving him naked. His body, at some point around the time of his death, would have been discarded at the site where it was eventually located, covered as previously indicated with a sheet and with plastic sheeting, and further partially concealed under a suitcase also found at the site.”

Justice Turner noted that the reasonable prospect for Goodman’s reform placed the court in a difficult position.

Noting a portion of the probation report, which notes Goodman maintaining his innocence and not showing any remorse for the offence, the judge also highlighted the psychiatric report of the convict, where he was described to be “entirely coherent and goal directed thoughts.”

The judge did agree with defence counsel that the reports provides little insight into Goodman’s prospect of reform, but added that the exercise is speculative for those who do not admit their guilt.

The judge also said that what is known of Goodman is that he has previous convictions for unnatural carnal knowledge in 1993, attempted murder and causing grievous harm in August 1998, as well as assaulting a police officer in the latter year.

“He has therefore spent a substantial portion of his adult life in prison,” the judge noted.

Regarding the facts surrounding the previous convictions where the victims were similar in age to Marco Archer, the judge said that “in spite of his previous convictions and imprisonment, he continues to inflict violence on young boys.”

Responding to Mr Farquharson’s submissions that there was no evidence of sexual assault, he said that it could be reasonably inferred from the evidence that the murder had to do with more than just the motive to commit murder and was for the purpose of sexual gratification.

“I am satisfied on the available information so that I am sure, that there is no reasonable prospect for the reform of this offender,” the judge said, basing his reason on “displayed predatory behaviour towards young boys.”

“That behaviour has escalated from sexual assault to attempted murder, now to murder in the circumstances indicated,” the judge said.

Justice Turner, on the issue of the death penalty, was “satisfied that the circumstances of this case required that such a penalty be imposed” having regard to the little mitigating factors, the circumstances of the case and Goodman’s previous convictions.

“This case is a clear and compelling case for the ultimate sentence of death, to satisfy the requirements of due punishment for the murder of this child and to protect this society from any further predatory conduct by this convict at any time in the future.”

“Kofhe Edwardo Ferguson Goodman, I hereby sentence you to suffer death in the manner authorised by law” the judge ruled.

Comments

santopadro 4 years, 8 months ago

In my strongest opinion, The state is also complacent in this child's murder and should have been on trial as a co-defendant. This homicidal pedophile was previously convicted of sexually molesting a child and was suspected of murdering another child, but, for whatever reason, was NOT charged. And, despite the fact that the prognosis for recovery of these criminally insane individuals is practically nonexistent, this individual was allowed back into society by the state, apparently released without any psychological evaluation or counselling, after serving a relatively light sentence, to offend again. So, in the aftermath, the death penalty seems to be the most politically expedient manner in which the state has chosen to deal with this horrific set of circumstances_ And, judging from the comments here, in general, this will appease the public outcry for hanging_ a reaction that is understandable in the murder of a helpless child. However, this does not resolve the more difficult issue of re-accessing the government protocols and policies for dealing with the criminally insane, and, walking the sometimes blurred line between protecting the individual rights and the rights of society... Clearly, there was a breakdown in the system in this particular case, which allowed this dangerous individual back on the streets to murder another innocent child_ but, the public's reaction to this is a deafening silence.

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