By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
A MAN was sentenced yesterday to 40 years in prison for a murder a judge said only served to underscore the “wave of uncharacteristic and unprecedented violence” in the Bahamas.
Jamal “Gargamel” Morley appeared before Justice Vera Watkins facing 30 years to life in prison for the March 2012 killing of 23-year-old Elroy Wilson at West End Avenue.
Morley’s sentence was reduced to 36 years and 11 months after the court took into account time spent on remand awaiting trial.
The 40 year old, The Tribune understands, had been offered a 25-year plea deal at his trial if he admitted to the offence. He rejected the offer.
However, a jury unanimously convicted him of murder on April 22. The Crown did not seek the discretionary death penalty.
Justice Watkins, in sentencing Morley to 40 years imprisonment yesterday, quoted sentiments of former Court of Appeal Justice Stanley John in the case of Raphael Neymour v The Attorney General (2010) who stressed the need to reflect society’s disdain of violent crimes.
“The Bahamas is facing a wave of uncharacteristic and unprecedented violence. The court has a duty to send out a strong message to the community at large and particularly to those involved in disruptive behaviour, that as society advances a higher measure of self-control is called for. The sentence in our view ought to serve as a deterrent to the appellant and those minded to act in a similar manner,” the former appellate judge said in 2010.
Justice Watkins yesterday said: “Unfortunately, the wave of uncharacteristic and unprecedented violence in the Bahamas continues today.
“This is evidence by the facts of the present case,” the judge added.
Wilson was walking with two friends when Morley approached and asked, before shooting him, why Wilson had come into his yard.
Wilson was still conscious when police arrived. When asked how he was injured, he told officers: “Gargamel shoot me.”
Wilson stated that “Gargamel” was Morley and pointed in the direction of the Morley’s home before he became unresponsive.
One of the men who was with Wilson picked out Morley during an identification parade and in court. Another witness did not make a facial recognition, but said that he recognised the shooter’s voice as that of Morley.
In a record of an interview with police, Morley denied involvement in the murder, but acknowledged he was known as “Gargamel”.
Morley, giving sworn testimony, said he had told police that he was one of two persons in the area who was known by the same nickname.
“A young man was shot and killed for no apparent reason other than he may have entered Morley’s property,” the judge said.
“Morley’s response to the deceased entering his property is indicative of the fact that he exercised no self control on this occasion. It is also an indication that the trend of disruptive behaviour continues in the Bahamas today and the court must continue to impose sentences that will serve as a deterrent to Morley and to those who are minded to behave in a similar manner.”
“As indicated earlier, the evidence presented by the prosecution does not disclose a motive for the killing save that Morley asked the deceased why he was in his (Morley’s) yard. Morley has not admitted any wrongdoing and as such he has provided no explanation for shooting the deceased. Based on information available, it is reasonable to infer that Morley shot the deceased because the deceased had been in Morley’s yard.”
“Surely there must have been another way for Morley to resolve any issues concerning his property. The shooting of the deceased was by no means a rational way of addressing the issue. This behaviour is unacceptable and the sentence of the court must reflect society’s disapproval of such anti-social behaviour,” the judge stressed.
Justice Watkins noted that Morley had a number of mitigating factors in his favour, namely his gainful employment prior to the incident, expression of sorrow for the murder, his assistance in raising his children and no prior convictions for violent crimes.
However, Justice Watkins said the aggravating factors far outweigh the positive given that murder “is a serious offence (and) there has been a tragic loss of life.”
The judge, again, underscored the apparent reason for the unprovoked killing and noted that “the offence involved the use of a firearm” and there was no indication that the firearm has been found.
“The shooting was a callous act and Morley has expressed no remorse for his actions,” the judge said.
The judge expressed hope that he would use the time at the Department of Correctional Services to improve his skills in construction given his former work as a carpenter’s helper.
“This would no doubt assist him with reintegration into society upon his release from prison,” Justice Watkins said.
Keith Seymour defended Morley at trial. Laneil Williams prosecuted the Crown.