By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
A MAN yesterday accepted a plea agreement that landed him in prison for 24 years for strangling his girlfriend after she struggled against his sexual advances.
William Gregory Strachan, 47, of Nassau Village, initially appeared before Justice Bernard Turner to stand trial in connection with the April 17, 2015 death of 55-year-old Doretta Rolle.
Strachan would have faced between 30 years and life imprisonment if convicted of murder at trial.
However, Strachan and his lawyer, Christina Galanos, made a plea deal with prosecutor Desiree Ferguson ahead of the start of trial, negating the need for the jury that was dismissed from court prior to the re-reading of the charge against the accused.
When the murder charge and particulars were read to Strachan, he said: “Not guilty to murder, but guilty to manslaughter.”
Around 7am on the day in question, Rolle was found unresponsive inside her Nassau Village home and was pronounced dead upon the arrival of EMS personnel who were called to the scene. Initial reports suggested she was strangled.
Police detectives received information from a neighbour of Rolle who said that she had recently moved into the apartment no more than two weeks prior to her death and on a number of occasions, the accused had been seen assisting her in moving furniture to the apartment.
On the night of April 16, the neighbour saw Strachan enter the apartment on two occasions but never saw him leave.
He heard a thud sound sometime after midnight but heard nothing else until after 8am when he awoke and saw police officers at his neighbour’s residence and learned that she had been murdered.
Strachan’s employer also assisted police with their investigation, Justice Turner was told.
He told police that sometime after 7am, Strachan came to his house and told him that something happened at his girlfriend’s residence.
Strachan claimed he was unable to wake her and believed she was dead.
The employer called the police and told Strachan to return and let the police know what had happened.
An autopsy was performed by Dr Caryn Sands on April 17, 2015 who discovered the cause of death to be the result of blunt force trauma to the head and neck as well as asphyxiation from strangulation.
Strachan, meanwhile, gave two statements to police.
In his first record of interview, he indicated that Rolle was his girlfriend with whom he had a frequent sexual relationship, claiming that she usually allowed him to come into the house and had sex with her on a number of occasions.
Following the autopsy report and further inquiries, another record of interview was recorded from Strachan.
He stated that on the day in question, he went to Rolle’s home and made sexual advances towards her. She refused and put up a struggle. She picked up an iron and in defending himself, he held her by both hands and she fell to the ground, falling on the iron causing the injuries to her neck. He held onto her throat and choked her for about 15-20 minutes until she stopped breathing. He tried to see if he could have revived her by slapping her in the face and shaking her shoulders but got no response.
He said he called out for help but no one was around to assist him. He waited until the sun came up and went to his employer Leslie Ingraham’s residence and informed him of the same.
Strachan’s lawyer said her client is “extremely remorseful for his actions.”
“The scenario haunts him day and night. M’lord, it is submitted that that in itself is a form of punishment.”
Ms Galanos stressed that her client did not waste the court’s time and pleaded guilty before the start of trial.
“As the court is aware, there is a plea agreement in place between the Crown and defence whereby it is agreed that Mr Strachan would plead guilty to the lesser offence of manslaughter and the sentence of 24 years imprisonment would be recommended. We would also ask that the court take into consideration Mr Strachan’s 15 months on remand. We are aware that any agreement made between the Crown and the defence in these circumstances is subject to the court’s approval.
“We humbly ask the court to acknowledge and honour the agreement,” Ms Galanos concluded.
Though the prosecutor offered no further submissions, Justice Turner told Strachan that his actions “have resulted in the death of a human being whom according to the indication in the evidence was a person whom you had a relationship.”
“The court is mindful of your counsel’s indication that that death haunts you (and) that is undoubtedly a part of the sentence that you have inflicted upon yourself by your actions,” the judge added.
Justice Turner said he would honour the agreement of a 24-year sentence that would be further reduced by 15 months spent in custody.
“The period of imprisonment will provide you an ample opportunity to consider your actions so that when you are eventually released you do not find yourself in such a situation again. You’re no longer a young man compared to those persons with whom you’ll be housed,” the judge concluded.