Mon | May 27, 2024

BARBARIC SLAUGHTERING

Judge makes disdain clear while giving Shineka Gray’s killer 50-year sentence

Published:Saturday | April 13, 2024 | 12:07 AMChristopher Thomas/Gleaner Writer

WESTERN BUREAU:

High Court Justice Bertram Morrison did not mince words on Friday as he ordered Gregory Roberts, the man convicted of the murder of schoolgirl Shineka Gray, to serve a minimum of 50 years for the crime.

In handing down the life imprisonment sentence in the St James Circuit Court, Justice Morrison outlined several aggravating factors, including prior testimony that Roberts and his former co-defendant Mario Morrison had sex with the underage Gray then video-recorded himself brutally stabbing her 19 times on the night of January 29, 2017.

“Imagine a 15-year-old girl having gone to a funeral, having gone to an eatery, having gone to the taxi stand, having been taken up into the defendant’s taxi in which his accomplice was, being driven not to her home in Bogue, but being driven elsewhere; then being set upon by the defendant, her being a young lady who could not have consented to having sex because of her age; and then the temerity of the accused man to prevail upon her for her to avail Mr Morrison of the services which she had rendered to him,” Justice Morrison said with clear disgust in his tone.

“Thereafter he proceeded to stab her to her upper body, plus the temerity of him video-recording this dastardly deed, and when that was not sufficient, he handed the video recorded to his accomplice Mr Mario Morrison, who then proceeded to complete the recording, and in one instance of the recording a voice is heard saying, ‘Dog you nuh see you a mek blood splash on me?’ It reminds me of the days when I used to witness the slaughtering of animals, of goats and pigs,” Justice Morrison added.

“This is what human life has been devalued to, because he could not have his way with his paramour, he decided that he would make a ‘sacrifice’ out of another human being to signal his intention of what would have befallen her had he held her.”

The judge was referencing testimony from the trial, which indicated that his actions were motivated by a desire to take revenge on his ex-girlfriend, who reportedly refused to have sex with him after he gave her money on a previous occasion before January 29, 2017.

Justice Morrison also noted that another aggravating factor against Roberts was his previous criminal record to include convictions for simple larceny in 2014, and escaping custody in 2016.

“The witnesses of character who gave evidence in this case on behalf of the defendant failed in their endeavour to paint him with the picture of a saint. He has no halo circling above his head because it has been demonstrably shown that he was a beneficiary of state protection when he committed two acts, one of simple larceny and one of escaping custody. He was exposed to the system and appeared not to have benefited at all from his experience,” said Morrison.

SENDing A MESSAGE

Lead prosecutor Andrea Martin-Swaby had recommended in her closing arguments on April 5 that Roberts’ sentence should start at 50 years without parole to send a message that crimes against children should not be condoned by society.

“We are asking for life, non-eligibility before 50 years … . It is important in the context of the case at bar that a strong message be sent to society that the murder of children will not and should not be tolerated. In this case at bar, the defendant and his accomplice Mr Morrison also engaged in sexual intercourse with the now-deceased, she being a person below the age of consent.

“It is a part of the facts, even if we did not indict, it is a part of the facts that went before the tribunal of fact and must be in your contemplation,” Martin-Swaby said at the time.

Roberts will now serve 42 years, nine months, and 21 days behind bars before he will be eligible for parole.

That time took into account the more than seven years Roberts has been in custody since 2017, which was subtracted from the 50-year starting number.

Roberts’ attorney, Chumu Parris, indicated that his client would be appealing the sentence.

Gray, a grade 10 student of Green Pond High School in St James, was last seen alive in Montego Bay on January 29, 2017 while returning from the funeral of a schoolmate.

Her body was found three days later in bushes in Irwin.

Roberts, who was arrested on February 3, 2017 and charged with Gray’s murder, was found guilty on January 24, 2024 by a seven-member jury after 85 minutes of deliberation.

christopher.thomas@gleanerjm.com