By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
SHOOTING an unarmed man in the head and crushing nearly every bone in his body with his own truck to ensure his death warranted the maximum penalty on the law books, a prosecutor argued yesterday.
Former couple Thorne Edwards and Lyndera Curry made their latest post-conviction appearance before Senior Justice Stephen Isaacs in the Supreme Court on respective charges of murder and manslaughter stemming from the accosting and fatal shooting of businessman Kurt McCartney on October 24, 2013, in Gambier.
Branville McCartney, brother of the deceased, was present in court as sentencing for the pair finally commenced after three delays since their conviction last December.
The Crown is seeking the discretionary death penalty for Edwards and life imprisonment for Curry.
Roger Thompson, trial prosecutor, said the murder “is a fit and proper case for the imposition of the maximum penalty for murder with respect to Thorne Edwards and the maximum penalty for manslaughter with respect to Lyndera Curry”.
“Thorne Edwards shot McCartney to the head while the girlfriend drove the vehicle over his body and the actions of both convicted led to the death of the deceased.
“Mr McCartney did not die immediately and he must have suffered excruciating pain. He did not do anything to provoke the attack. They could have robbed him without shooting him in the head and rolling over his body. The convicts appeared to have planned this killing,” Mr Thompson added.
Edwards and Curry, along with Okell Farrington and Sumya Ingraham, were on trial for nearly two weeks concerning McCartney’s murder and armed robbery.
On December 14, 2015, a jury took three hours to return verdicts for each of the accused persons after they had been excused to deliberate on the evidence.
Edwards was unanimously convicted of murder and was found guilty of armed robbery on a majority verdict of 9-3. Curry was acquitted of murder but found guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter by 11-1. The same count was returned on her conviction for armed robbery.
Farrington and Ingraham were acquitted of murder, manslaughter and armed robbery. Businessman and community activist Terry Delancy, who had been accused of being an accessory to the murder after the fact, was acquitted of the charge following the close of the prosecution’s case for legal reasons.
It was alleged that Edwards shot McCartney in the face after he became involved in an argument between Curry and the victim. The prosecution maintained that McCartney was crushed when Farrington, Ingraham and Curry allegedly rolled over his body as they fled the scene in the victim’s Hummer. It was alleged that Edwards ran away after the shooting.
“Thorne Edwards armed himself with a gun and he must have had intention to kill. He could have robbed Kurt (McCartney) without killing him. This indicates a disposition to re-offend, to kill without costs,” the prosecutor stressed yesterday.
The 2011 amendment to the Penal Code, which followed the Privy Council’s decision in the Maxo Tido decision, notes that only certain types of aggravated murder are currently punishable by death. These include murder of a law enforcement officer; murder of a judicial officer, including judges, registrars and prosecutors; murder of a witness or juror; murder of more than one person; murder committed by an accused 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.
The prosecutor said that as recently as 2013, the Supreme Court imposed the death penalty for two men in separate murder cases, Kofhe Goodman and Anthony Clarke.
Mr Thompson stressed that murder, manslaughter and armed robbery were serious offences and that in this case, the convicts committed them in public spaces in view of civilians who could have have been impacted by their actions.
He also highlighted that nearly every bone in McCartney’s body was broken after being rolled over by his own truck, not including the bullet to his brain.
Mr Thompson said that both convicts have refused to accept responsibility for their actions and have yet to express remorse for the fatal conclusion of the night in question.
Mr Thompson had tried to argue a point alleging the correlation between crime statistics concerning murders and the Bahamas’ last hanging.
However, Senior Justice Isaacs said that not only were the statistics irrelevant to sentencing as each case had to be determined on its own merit but “the last time there was a death sentence, there were two murders the next day”.
Geoffrey Farquharson, Edwards’ lawyer for the sentencing phase of trial, responded that the “transcripts do not indicate the motive for the incident that took place”.
He added: “There’s nothing to suggest that the shooting was in pursuance of armed robbery. The taking and driving of the vehicle, from the record, it appears to have been done in panic leading to further injury of the deceased. I say that to say there’s nothing in evidence to suggest robbery was a motive for murder.”
Mr Farquharson also stressed that the prosecutor neglected to mention that Goodman’s case was the subject of an appeal while Clarke won his appeal against the death penalty and was re-sentenced.
Mr Farquharson referred to the authority case of Tremmingham, which notes that the court has to be satisfied that a killing meets the worst of the worst threshold in order to moved to impose the death penalty.
The lawyer further stressed that the Crown had not proved that Edwards, whom by the probation officer’s own report had been a productive citizen up to the time of conviction, was not beyond rehabilitation if released from prison after a specified number of years.
Mr Farquharson acknowledged the 2011 amendments to the Penal Code but said they were nothing more than “statutory guidance” for the judiciary, which has unfettered discretionary powers empowered by the Constitution.
Mr Farquharson said if the victim was not who he was, a beloved businessman to many persons including himself, “there would be no call for the imposition of the death penalty”.
The sentencing hearing continues today.