By RICARDO WELLS
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Court of Appeal has affirmed both the conviction and sentencing of Thaddeus Williams, 25, citing the court's position on not interfering with a sentences passed by lower courts, unless those sentences were "manifestly harsh, excessive or wrong in principle".
Mr Williams was charged and convicted of the 2012 shooting death of 23-year-old Deshante Bain.
Investigators said Mr Williams, then 19, fatally shot Bain as he parked outside of his West Street and Hospital Lane home.
Attorneys for Williams in their appeal, objected to the admissibility of the record of interview and the statement of the defendant, allegedly given on February 18, 2012, pursuant to section 20(2) of the Evidence Act on the grounds the defendant was beaten, tortured, oppressed to sign a fictitious statement and record of interview.
At trial, Williams' defense team had alleged police officers had:
• Handcuffed his hands and feet
• Been punched
• had a telephone directory placed on his chest then been beaten with a bat
• had bags placed over his head
• beaten with his own shoe.
After this, they alleged, he signed a false confession which at trial they argued should not be submitted as evidence. The judge disagreed and allowed it to be heard.
However, the appellate court, in its written decision just published, ruled: "The appeal court will not interfere with the decision of the trial judge unless he makes a material error of law or, on the facts as he found them, no reasonable judge properly directing himself on the law could have exercised his power to admit the evidence."
Furthering its decision, the appellant court noted the appellant alleged the trial judge erred in law by attaching more weight to testing the case for the appellant rather than whether or not the prosecution had discharged its burden of proving beyond reasonable doubt that the statements were voluntary.
Pointing to the trial judge's clarification on the issues put before his court, the appellant court added: "Clearly the judge understood the burden of proof and accepted the evidence of the police officers."
"She acknowledged that the burden of proof was on the Crown and not the appellant to satisfy her that the statement and record of interview were voluntarily given and not obtained by oppression," the decision added.
"She accepted the evidence of the police officers and rejected the evidence of the defendant and his witnesses as untruthful. Those findings of fact are not against the weight of the evidence and this court will not interfere with those findings. In those circumstances she was entitled to admit the evidence."
The 14-page decision concluded: "It is settled law that 'as an appellate court however, we do not and should not, readily interfere with a sentence passed by a lower court which was seized with all the facts and circumstances of the case, unless the sentence was manifestly harsh, excessive or wrong in principle'. See Kostadin Karchav v the Commisioner of Police MCCrApp & CAIS No. 56 of 2015. This is not such a sentence."
Mr Williams was sentenced to 23 years and nine months.