By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
A SUPREME Court judge did not impose the death penalty on a man convicted of double murder who yesterday threatened to have the London-based Privy Council remove him from the bench alleging that both the judge and the prosecutor were “corrupt”.
Senior Justice Stephen Isaacs had to sentence 36-year-old Basil Gordon in his absence when Gordon became unruly on not being allowed to make a constitutional motion prior to sentencing for the June 16, 2002, murders of Rosynell Newbold and her grandson, Kevin Wilson.
“Even if I accept that he was sane at the time of the murders, from the principle of Maxo Tido, the death penalty cannot be applied unless the prosecution proves to the court that there are no prospects for rehabilitation,” the judge said before imposing a sentence of 50 years for each murder and 15 years for burglary, all to run concurrently.
Gordon requested to be heard on his written application when he appeared before the judge last week, but the judge said he would have to review the documents written by the convict because at first glance, they appeared to be an appeal of the conviction which should be filed to the Court of Appeal.
Prosecutor Viola Barnett did not object to an adjournment, but wished to review the document as well.
Yesterday, the judge, having reviewed the document in its entirety, said Gordon’s application was misconceived and moved on to sentencing.
The ruling was met with strong objection from Gordon, who insisted that he be heard on the motion.
Police officers in the courtroom attempted to quiet the convict and have him sit down. He refused. Gordon started raising his voice and entered into a heated exchange with the judge who repeated that the sentencing would proceed.
“I am going to say this once Mr Gordon. You will have a seat and if you don’t have I will send you to the cell and we will proceed in your absence. Have a seat!” the judge said.
“Y’all can’t force me to sit down!” Gordon shouted. “I have a right to be heard, there’s a procedure to follow!”
The convict also warned officers not to touch him as he moved out of the prisoner’s dock.
“Y’all do what y’all want do. You and the prosecutor corrupt! I’ll ask the judge from the Privy Council to remove you,” Gordon shouted.
“Take him to the cell!” Senior Justice Isaacs ordered before motioning for the scheduled proceeding to begin.
Prior to Gordon’s retrial concerning the incident, Romona Farquharson-Seymour and Sonia Timothy were appointed as his counsel.
However, he expressed dissatisfaction with their representation of him and decided to represent himself during the trial in which a jury unanimously convicted him of two murders and burglary.
The Crown’s case was that Gordon broke into a Pinewood Gardens home on June 16, 2002 and fatally stabbed Newbold and Wilson. The victims were the grandmother and brother of his ex-love interest.
Gordon denied the crimes during an interview with police, claiming that he was at a pool hall when the murders occurred. His alibi was investigated and while a worker at the pool hall said a man named Basil was there, she was unable to say if it were the same person as the accused.
Gordon was linked to the crime scene through DNA after police detectives sent off blood swabs collected outside the home and the accused’s blood for forensic analysis.
Gordon was given a third appointed attorney, Allen Emmanuel, for sentencing, but the latter asked the court’s permission to withdraw as counsel because of disagreements concerning the handling of the matter.
Dr John Dillett, a consultant psychiatrist, took the witness stand yesterday concerning the mental state of the convict.
The psychiatrist said he was aware of Gordon having been examined in 2008. An examination revealed that Gordon experienced anxiety attacks and an acute psychosis. The latter is the beginning stage of chronic schizophrenia.
The anxiety and acute psychosis, however, were not constant.
The prosecutor asked if there was any reason to believe that he experienced those conditions as far back as 2002.
Dr Dillett said it was difficult to say but noted that there were no medical records showing Gordon’s treatment by a psychiatrist or admission to the Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre.
The psychiatrist said he has since examined Gordon personally and determined that his cognitive abilities were intact and that his ability to express emotions was normal.
“There’s no current evidence of psychosis. He’s fit to attend court and fit to instruct counsel,” the psychiatrist concluded.
Senior Probation Officer Janice McKenzie gave a report on her interview with Gordon and her investigation into his social background.
She noted that the death of Gordon’s father when he was in the eleventh grade affected him to the point of isolation from his peers and relatives.
Despite this, Gordon was able to obtain and maintain steady employment while in and out of prison. Persons he worked with described him as a “loving, nice, non-violent and caring individual” and did not believe him capable of committing the offences.
“He’s sorry the crime was committed, but he said he had no reason to take the lives and believes he was framed,” the court heard.
Gordon also told the probation officer he’s better able to control his temper as an adult.
Asking no further questions of the probation officer, the prosecutor advised the court that it had the discretion to impose the death penalty when considering a number of factors.
“This case is one that ought to be considered the worst of the worst and that Gordon is an offender incapable of rehabilitation,” Ms Barnett said.
She noted that the 2011 amendment to the Penal Code notes that only certain types of aggravated murder are currently punishable by death: murder of a law enforcement officer; murder of a judicial officer; murder of a witness or juror; murder of more than one person; murder committed by a defendant who has a prior murder conviction; and murder in exchange for value.
The amendment further provides that any murder committed in the course of/or in furtherance of a robbery, rape, kidnapping, terrorist act, or any other felony is punishable by death, with no explicit requirement of intent to cause death.
A felony is defined as any offence which is punishable by at least three years’ imprisonment.
“There’s no indication that Gordon was not sane in 2002,” the prosecutor said, adding that “had he had a psychotic condition, he’d have come into contact with medical services well prior to that.
“These are murders that took place in the victims’ home and the evidence is that he broke into the home to commit these offences,” the judge was told.
“One of the victims was 75 years old, an elderly lady and we consider her a vulnerable victim,” the prosecutor said.
“The pathologist indicated the number of wounds. Kevin had 16 stab wounds. Some of his teeth were knocked out. And one of the wounds to his abdomen was so deep, his organs protruded out of his back,” the prosecutor reminded the court.
“We say the nature of these particular murders was heinous,” the prosecutor said, reminding the judge to consider the prevalence of murder in the Bahamas.
She acknowledged some mitigating factors in Gordon’s favour in that he had no previous convictions prior to the incident, his age at the time and his collective 10 years spent on remand concerning the matter.
“However, we do not believe there’s any reasonable prospect for reform. He’s shown no remorse,” the prosecutor concluded.
Senior Justice Isaacs acknowledged that Gordon had not shown remorse and that “this case may be in the category of the worst of the worst.”
“I note that it was a double murder committed during a burglary,” the judge said. “The act was certainly heinous and, of course, the prevalence of murder is alarming. On the other hand, he (Gordon) had no previous convictions and he spent nine years and 10 months in and out of prison.”
“I accept there’s no fixed evidence that he was psychotic and I also accept Dr Dillett’s evidence of his cognitive abilities. I’ve observed Mr Gordon’s behaviour in court today and it is my view that he’s suffering from some sort of mental illness.”
The judge sentenced Gordon to 15 years for burglary and 50 years imprisonment for each murder. All three sentences are to run concurrently from the date of sentencing.
The convict was credited for his 10 years spent on remand, meaning he will serve 40 years in prison.