By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
THOUGH he was spared death yesterday, Janaldo Farrington had no visible or vocal reaction to the life imprisonment handed down by a judge yesterday for the paid execution of a banker.
Farrington, 24, of Pinewood Gardens remained stoic up to the end of Justice Roy Jones’ six-minute ruling when the judge concluded that despite the murder of Stephen Sherman in February 2012 being heinous – and that no remorse had been shown – he could not impose the death penalty on Farrington for a number of reasons.
Justice Jones ruled that the Crown had not given notice of their intention to seek the death penalty, as had been the practice set out by former Chief Justice Sir Burton Hall in 2006, and that the convict was not beyond reform as he was only 24 with no prior convictions and no present infraction of prison rules since his incarceration at Her Majesty’s Prisons.
Murrio Ducille, Farrington’s lawyer throughout the case, spoke to the media following the sentencing. He noted that having regard to the section his client was charged under, murder contrary to section 291 (1)(a) of the Penal Code, “the judge can only impose the death penalty or life imprisonment.”
“After due consideration, a judgment has been delivered, he has imposed life imprisonment on the act, the discretion that he has to exercise,” he added.
Mr Ducille went on to say, however, that “of course it follows that an appeal will be filed forthwith because our position has always been that he’s innocent”.
“He professes his innocence up to this point and the psychiatrist and the probation officers have agreed that the fact that no remorse has been shown is not inconsistent with the fact that one professes one’s innocence.”
Mr Sherman, an assistant manager at the Royal Bank of Canada in Palmdale, was shot in the head when he pulled up to his Yamacraw Shores home on the evening of February 17, 2012. While on his knees he was robbed of his cell phone before being shot. His niece, who was in the car with him, was also robbed.
His wife, Renee Sherman, Cordero Bethel and Farrington were charged with conspiring to commit murder. Farrington and Bethel were together charged with his murder and the two armed robberies while the widow was charged with aiding and abetting the murder of her husband. All three denied the charges.
During the trial, the widow and Bethel were acquitted on the direction of the judge, leaving Farrington to answer to the charges against him because of a confession that he gave to the police on February 24, 2012.
Farrington was initially scheduled to be sentenced last November having unanimously been found guilty by a jury a little more than a month earlier.
However, the matter was adjourned to January 23 to allow Mr Ducille more time to review the probation report. In February Mr Ducille and the prosecutor were in the Court of Appeal but the judge was presiding over a trial.
Farrington’s sentencing date was then set for March 19. However, the psychiatrist was out of the country at the time, hence the adjournment to April 30.
Last week, Janice McKenzie, a probation officer from the Department of Rehabilitation, told the court that the convict had “vehemently” denied committing the offences, claiming he was in fear for his life when he was tortured by police and signed a document that he had not read beforehand.
The officer noted that Farrington, who had grown up with parental support, had not expressed remorse for the crimes he had committed, but that he had no previous convictions and had broken no prison rules since his incarceration.
The psychiatrist, Dr Sridas Boudha, noted that Farrington was of sound mind, but did suffer from marijuana misuse disorder.
Prosecutor Sandradee Gardiner informed the judge that the convict had been charged with murder under section 291(a) of the Penal Code which allows for two punishments, death or life imprisonment.
The prosecutor further explained that the murder committed by Farrington fell within this category because it had been done in the process of another felony (armed robbery) and the murder was a contract killing (for pay).
She noted the evidence of Dr Caryn Sands, who testified that the victim would not have survived long enough to receive medical attention having been shot in the back of his head at point-black range.
She referred to the reports of the psychiatrist and probation officer and invited the court, in the circumstances, to exercise its discretion in sentencing Farrington to death or life imprisonment.
Mr Ducille, in response, noted that much had been made of his client’s lack of remorse, but said that even the psychiatrist and probation officer admitted that this attitude was consistent with someone who professed innocence.
He further asked the court to take note of his client’s lack of antecedents prior to conviction and that he had broken no rules since being admitted to prison.
Mr Ducille concluded that the Supreme Court was not bound by legislation passed by Parliament as sentencing, ultimately, was at the discretion of the judge.
Justice Jones said he would give his ruling on the convict’s fate on May 8, which he did yesterday when he came to the conclusion that notwithstanding the crime that was committed was quite heinous, the convict was not beyond reform as he was only 24 with no prior and no present infraction of prison rules since his incarceration at Her Majesty’s Prisons.
Farrington was sentenced to life imprisonment on murder and conspiracy to commit murder while receiving 15 years in prison for armed robbery.
Greg Sherman, brother of the deceased, spoke on behalf of the victim’s relatives following the sentencing and said “we are satisfied even though we all wanted death.”
“But you know what really baffles me about this whole situation? It’s that I attended all of the hearings and there can be no dispute that my brother was murdered for hire. That was proven in court and the defence lawyer never argued it, never complained of it,” he claimed.
“But we’re satisfied that at least partial justice was served in this aspect so we’re hoping now that the other persons involved initially, we’ll hope that once the conclusion of the appeal process, that those persons will be charged again.”
It is understood that prosecution is challenging the acquittals of his clients, 44-year-old widow Renee Sherman and Cordero Bethel, 22, concerning the death of Stephen Sherman.
Mr Sherman’s brother said it has been rough for the family because his brother was “a good person” that is well-spoken of “every place we go.”
“The accolades just continue to pour in from people all over the world. They can’t believe that such a good man, that his life was just snuffed out like that. We must move on but it (sentencing) gives the family now, we’re one step closer to closure.”
As for the children of the deceased their uncle revealed that they applied to the Magistrates Court for some visitation rights. He said even though they were denied it he wanted them to know that their father’s relatives, if they ever needed anything at all, “are just a phone call away.”
“Like we all said amongst the family, children don’t remain children they eventually grow up to adults,” he said.