By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
A PROSECUTOR argued yesterday that the murder of an American sailor during his attempt to prevent a robbery of two visitors is a fitting case for the imposition of the discretionary death penalty.
Ambrose Armbrister appeared before Justice Indra Charles justifying the Crown’s application for the court to sentence Craig Johnson, 22, Anton Bastian, 21 and 23-year-old Marcellus Williams to death for their role in the events that led to Kyle Bruner’s fatal shooting on May 13, 2013.
Last November, a jury returned unanimous guilty verdicts for Johnson, Bastian and Williams for Bruner’s murder. The three men were further convicted with 30-year-old Jamaal Dorfevil on two counts of armed robbery as they were alleged to have accosted two women while armed with a firearm, robbing one of $150 cash, her $3,000 handbag and the other of cash, a handbag and an iPhone.
Mr Armbrister yesterday urged the judge to consider the Court of Appeal’s January 2016 decision in the matter of Simeon Bain who unsuccessfully challenged a conviction for murder, attempted armed robbery, kidnapping and housebreaking for the throat-slashing murder of a fast food restaurant manager.
He said notwithstanding the court’s decision to uphold Justice Charles’ decision not to impose the death penalty, the judgment of the court did note that the circumstances of the case met the threshold for consideration of the death penalty.
The prosecutor said the case of Johnson, Bastian, and Williams concerned the murder of a visitor during an armed robbery, which came after the November 2011 amendments to the Penal Code that classified which killings warranted death.
Mr Armbrister said all three convicts were remorseless and refused to accept responsibility for the committed acts.
Nathan Smith, lawyer for Johnson, said that the legislation does provide consideration for such cases but nothing more than that.
Mr Smith further informed the court that the “right to life” was one of many factors the Privy Council - the country’s highest court of appeal - had set out for judges to consider, the others being but not limited to, the extremity of the murder, the question of the convict’s ability to be reformed, and whether or not justice could only be met through death of the convict.
He added that death should only be considered in cases “where there is no hope for reform.”
He said his client is still young and had no prior convictions.
All four convicts denied having any involvement in the armed robbery and the killing of Bruner, who was shot in the neck as he tried to help two women who were being mugged by two armed men.
They testified that they were at home on the early morning in question and had been lied on and assaulted by the police, who produced videotaped interviews of Johnson, Williams and Dorfevil taking officers through the crime scene.
The jury heard evidence from Sean William Cannon, a first mate aboard the Liberty Chipper sailboat, who witnessed the shooting and later identified Johnson during an identification parade.
The Crown also submitted the police statement of another witness, Delano Smith, which implicated the remaining accused men concerning the crimes.
The sentencing hearing will continue on March 23 for lawyers of the remaining convicts to make oral submissions to the court.
Johnson, Bastian, Williams and Dorfevil were represented by attorneys Mr Smith, Roberto Reckley, Walton Bain and Sonia Timothy respectively.
A fifth accused, 21-year-old Leo Bethel, had all charges discontinued against him by way of a nolle prosequi within moments of Justice Charles concluding her summation of the evidence. He was defended by Ian Cargill.