By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
THORNE Edwards was sentenced to 45 years for murder and 20 years for armed robbery for his role in the killing of businessman Kurt McCartney.
The sentences for the convicted murderer will run concurrently and were reduced by Senior Justice Stephen Isaacs for time spent on remand. Edwards has been in custody since November 2013.
His co-accused and former girlfriend Lyndera Curry received seven years for her manslaughter conviction and five years for armed robbery.
The prosecution had asked Senior Justice Isaacs to impose the maximum penalties – death and life sentences – on the law books for the accused.
The prosecution said the shooting of McCartney, an unarmed man, in the head and crushing nearly every bone in his body with his own truck to ensure his death, warranted such sentences.
However, the judge noted that the seriousness of the offences had to be balanced against the fact both convicts were young and had no prior criminal history when the October 2013 incident occurred.
“The Crown has not proven beyond a reasonable doubt that this murder is the worst of the worst or that there’s no reasonable prospect for reform,” Senior Justice Isaacs said.
“The murder, however, seemed senseless and callous - the taking of a life without hesitation.”
The judge noted that Curry also denied involvement in the matter but “expressed sorrow for loss of life and hopes she will be vindicated on appeal.”
He noted that she, like Edwards, had no prior convictions.
“Curry was a young 19-year-old with no criminal history when this incident occurred,” the judge said. “From the evidence, she may not have formed the intention to kill Mr McCartney, but she was convicted of armed robbery during which Mr McCartney was killed. In fact, this led to a conviction for manslaughter. Taking into account all of the circumstances for the offence and of the offender, and I am mindful that she had no firearm, I sentence Curry to seven years on the manslaughter and five years for armed robbery.”
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.
In a hearing a week ago, trial prosecutor Roger Thompson 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 Thompson added.
“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,” the prosecutor said.
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.”
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 be moved to impose the death penalty.
The lawyer further stressed that the Crown had not proved that Edwards, whom by a 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 under the Constitution.
Sonia Timothy, lawyer for Lyndera Curry, said that based on the evidence at trial, the actions of her client amounted to manslaughter by negligence.
Such an offence, she said last week, carried a five-year prison term on the law books. Ms Timothy also noted that the armed robbery conviction in her client’s circumstance did not concern the use of a firearm, as she had no weapon.
She also asked the court to bear in mind the favourable probation report presented that painted Curry as a previously employed and productive citizen and a mother of a three-year-old child.
Both attorneys for the convicts informed the court of their client’s intent to appeal the convictions within 21 days and asked that a note be made on their files that their remand status not be changed.
The judge obliged the request.