By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
TWO brothers were spared the death penalty yesterday by a Supreme Court judge who found that the circumstances surrounding the murder of an off-duty police officer did not meet the London-based Privy Council’s “worst of the worst” threshold set out in the Maxo Tido case.
Quinton Rolle, brother of deceased Sergeant Wayne Rolle, at a previous hearing declared his family’s trust in the court to “do the right thing” in the sentencing of 26-year-old Dion Bethel and 30-year-old Kevin McKenzie concerning the December 4, 2014, incident.
However, balancing the Crown’s request for the imposition of the death penalty and the fact that both brothers had no prior criminal record of a similar nature, Justice Winder ruled that he was “satisfied that in both cases, neither case warrants the imposition of the death penalty.”
He added: “Neither of them had previous convictions and there’s nothing to suggest there (are) no prospects for reform. They also cannot be classified to be the worst of the worst as neither cases satisfies the criteria set out in the Privy Council case of Maxo Tido.”
Addressing McKenzie directly, the judge said 45 years for murder and 14 years for armed robbery were appropriate sentences for the person who pulled the trigger based on the evidence accepted by a jury.
Bethel was sentenced to 40 years imprisonment for having a lesser role in the fatal shooting. He too received 14 years for armed robbery.
They were informed that their sentences would run concurrently from the date of conviction.
The 2011 amendment to the Penal Code, which followed the Maxo Tido decision, 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 an intent to cause death. A felony is defined as any offence that is punishable by at least three years’ imprisonment.
Sgt Rolle was in a vehicle with a female friend on Durham Street, off Montrose Avenue, when he was shot in the head by two armed men.
Police were able to recover a stolen smartphone from 19-year-old Kendira Farrington, who testified in court that she had purchased the item for $150 from McKenzie two days after the incident.
The cellular phone’s identification number, found on the battery of most mobile phones, matched that of the one purchased by the deceased member of the police’s Mobile Unit.
Crown prosecutors produced a videotaped interview of McKenzie in police custody acknowledging that he sold the cell phone to Farrington, but at a much later date than alleged by police.
Police also produced an alleged confession in which Bethel owned up to his involvement in the robbery and subsequent killing.
Both Bethel and McKenzie alleged that the confessions were obtained as a result of severe beatings while in custody and were not given voluntarily. Both denied any involvement in Sgt Rolle’s murder and armed robbery.
Monique Gomez and Donna Dorsett-Major represented the brothers, who have the right to appeal the conviction and sentences of the court.
Cordell Frazier and Uel Johnson prosecuted the case.