By KORTNEY RODGERS
PRINCE Hepburn, the contractor convicted of the brutal murder of his lover Nellie Mae Brown-Cox, challenged his murder sentence at the Court of Appeal yesterday on the grounds that he was suffering from “diminished responsibility” at the time of the murder.
Referring to the unanimous decision made by the trial jury as “unreasonable”, Hepburn’s lawyer Murrio Ducille argued that his client was not liable to be convicted of murder due to the medical evidence presented by witness and psychiatrist Dr Michael Neville.
Hepburn, who allegedly suffered from “a brief psychotic episode”, was said to have been “substantially impaired” at the time of the incident.
Based on Dr Neville’s expertise, Mr Ducille contended that Hepburn’s behaviour after the murder was not the normal behaviour of a typical killer. To support this notion, he asked Justices Anita Allen, Stanley John and Neville Adderley to consider Hepburn’s attempt to commit suicide and his unwillingness to flee the scene after the incident.
He said these factors substantiate Dr Neville’s finding that Hepburn was “not normal”. Mr Ducille also argued that the trial judge, Justice Indra Charles, failed to give a detailed summation, which included reiterating the surrounding circumstances, during her closing remarks to the jury.
According to Justice Allen, there seemed to have been a “weakness” in Dr Neville’s evidence, stating that his diagnosis was made more than a year later, and that they needed to make certain that Hepburn was “substantially impaired at the time of the killing”.
Justice John also added that Hepburn’s mental state should have been assessed immediately after the incident. However, Mr Ducille thought the time-frame irrelevant due to Dr Neville’s 30 years of experience and expertise. In addition, the court also highlighted the messages written in blood on the cutlass after the incident and speculation that Hepburn had purchased a new cutlass, which Mr Ducille argued were “merely showing the psychosis that existed”.
On March 27, 2013, Hepburn was convicted of hacking his girlfriend, Brown-Cox, to death with a cutlass after receiving news of her infidelity. According to statements made on April 7, 2011, by Hepburn to the physician who treated him at the Princess Margaret Hospital, Dr Deedric Bowe, the couple was reportedly watching television when he began questioning Brown-Cox about her affair.
After receiving an unfavourable response, Hepburn got the cutlass and chopped Brown-Cox multiple times about her body.
An autopsy revealed that Brown-Cox, a 42-year-old former president of the Bahamas Heart Association, had more than two dozen lacerations and injuries.
She was found dead in the kitchen of an apartment on Bougainvillea Blvd in South Beach. Following the incident, it is reported that Hepburn attempted suicide by overdosing on pills, drinking bleach and rubbing alcohol and cutting himself on the hands and neck. Hepburn also wrote a bloody message on a cutlass which read, “you’re next George Sawyer” and “this is what cheaters get”.
During Hepburn’s appeal, Crown prosecutor Ambrose Armbrister said that Justice Charles did in fact present “all the ingredients” necessary for a safe verdict, and that the decision was made by a reasonable jury.
Mr Armbrister also directed attention to Hepburn’s statement: “I spent over $1 million on this woman. I left my wife for her and she gone scheme on me? I couldn’t live with that. I had to kill her,” made to a police superintendent after he was instructed to step outside the apartment complex after the murder.
Mr Ducille requested that the matter be adjourned for him to properly put together and present a suitable sentence for Hepburn.
The court granted the adjournment and reserved its decision regarding this matter until the appellant’s and prosecutor’s written submissions are received.