Photo Credit: BVI Platinum News
After hearing the life in prison without possibility of parole sentence handed down to the two men found guilty of her son's murder, Mrs. Besty Donovan told BVI Platinum News, "I don't really have a comment, but all I would say is that what God set out to accomplished he has." The woman said those words as she made her way to thank the team of prosecutors who prosecuted the case.
Following a lengthy sentencing hearing today, March 27, Yan Edwards and Allen Baptiste were sentenced to life in prison without parole for the murder of Keri 'Hank' Harrigan.
Prosecutor Valston Graham had submitted for the men to receive a whole life order.
Justice Redhead said the case falls under "the worse of worse category" and therefore, a whole life order is required and eligibility for early release does not apply. The Judge said he agrees with the prosecution that the men are yet to show any remorse over the killing.
On March 6, a nine member jury unanimously found the men guilty for the murder of Harrigan. Harrigan was gunned down in the area of the Long Look Clinic on the night of March 16, 2011 where a lone masked gun man approached him from the back and shot him four times, including twice to the brain.
Murder carries an automatic life imprisonment sentence; however, with the 2009 Parole Act, a High Court Judge now has the choice to state whether the convicted person can be eligible to go before the Parole Board after serving a certain amount of years. The Parole Board was established in September of last year.
Edwards was represented by Attorney-at-law Stephen Daniels and Baptiste by Lawyer Patrick Thompson while Senior Crown Counsel Graham and Christlyn Benjamin appeared for the Director of Public Prosecutions office.
At today´s sentencing hearing, Prosecutor Graham listed a number of aggravating factors but said there were no mitigating factors.
He said the fact that the murder was premeditated; it was firstly planned at a fire station which is designed to save lives; the fact that Edwards held the gun in the air and said that he will give Hank some of these; the use of a firearm, the murder weapon was not recovered; and that the murder was unprovoked.
He said at the time of the murder Edwards was 31 year old and Baptiste, 33.
Graham, who vigorously pushed for the judge not to state that the men should be considered for parole after serving a certain amount of years, said it must be made clear that under the Parole Act it is completely at the discretion of the trial judge given the circumstances surrounding the case.
The Prosecutor said this case is an exceptionally high one and they should receive the whole life order.
"The killing of Keri was heinous, brutal, savaged, planned and executed viciously...This case falls in an exceptionally high category. It was an execution...We say this case fits for the whole life order, it is fitted without possibility of parole. This is the worse of the worse and an exceptionally high case," Graham said.
Graham said the men have shown no remorse during and after the trial. "Society ought to be protected from them."
At this point he disclosed that they both declined not to be interviewed by the social development officer in order for a social inquiry report to be conducted on them.
The prosecutor also touched on aspects of the victim impact assessment report where the victim´s mother described the shattering impact it has had on the family. He said the mother confirmed that both Edwards and Baptiste were Hank´s friends.
He said in the report she said the Christmas season before the March 2011 murder, Hank had the men over at his home eating and drinking. She also related that one time she went overseas and when she returned her gas cylinder was missing and Hank told her that he gave it to his friend Baptiste.
Graham said the woman has problems sleeping as she is still searching for answers as the motive of the murder is not known. "She wants to know why her son was murdered."
Graham stated that all that came out of the trial was that Edwards said Hank was running his mouth, "I run my mouth but that´s why you go around murdering people?"
Justice Redhead said he too is still trying to know the motive behind the killing.
Graham commented that a whole life order is not unconstitutional.
Meanwhile, lawyer Stephen Daniels during his mitigation on behalf of Edwards said there is little or no mitigating factors for Edwards today in the court however, he said Edwards is an eligible candidate for parole. He said it is his opinion that the case is not the worse of the worse cases.
He said his client is the father of three children ages-7, 4 and 2 and prior to his conviction he worked with the Fire and Rescue Service for some ten years, a job he was quite committed to in relation to serving the community.
In relation to Edwards not cooperating with the social development officer, Edwards said he can infer that his client was not happy with the conviction and cited a case where a complainant who was not happy with the not guilty verdict of the accused threatened the jury.
However, Justice Redhead disagreed and said he viewed Edwards not cooperating as "do what you all want to do...He is facing life in prison..."
Daniels asked that his client be in the category at a starting point of 30 years.
Meanwhile, lawyer Patrick Thompson said his client who is 34 year old is a BVIslander and has three children. He said at the time of the offence he was a painter by trade.
In relation to the social inquiry report, the lawyer said nothing in relation to his circumstances would have swayed the judge in anyway. He said there was little to nothing to gain for Baptiste in a social inquiry report.
Like, Daniels he too argued against the whole life order put forward by the prosecution. Thompson said the nearest sentence to the death penalty in the Territory is a whole life, and in this case a whole life order was unwarranted. The lawyer cited a number of laws to support his argument.
Justice Redhead asked Thompson if he think he knows who pulled the trigger on the night of the murder based on the evidence during the trial but Thompson said he is unable to say.
Article Published On March 5, 2013 "Yan Edwards & Allen Baptiste Guilty Of Murder"
Shortly after 4:20 p.m. yesterday, March 6, a nine member jury found Yan Edwards and Allen Baptiste unanimously guilty for the murder of Keri 'Hank' Harrigan.
Harrigan was gunned down in the area of Long Look Clinic on the night of March 16, 2011 where a lone masked gun man approached him from the back and shot him four times including twice to the brain.
Both men will return to court on March 28 to be sentenced by Justice Albert Redhead.
During the trial which lasted for some two weeks, Prosecutors Valston Graham and Christlyn Benjamin appeared for the crown while, Baptiste was represented by lawyer Patrick Thompson and Edwards by lawyer Stephen Daniels.
On Tuesday March 5,legal teams on both sides conducted their closing addresses to the jury.
Prosecutor Graham led the arguments during his closing address where he said the writing is on the wall in relation to the case.
Graham told the jury that from the evidence given in court, it is clear that Edwards was the ring leader. He pointed to Vaughn Cameron's [Larry] girlfriend, Samantha Gilbert's statement where she said Edwards told her that they were holding his boy, Larry, and trying to put him against him [Edwards]. Graham said Edwards did not say friend, but "my boy".
He said it was Edwards who invited Cameron and Henito Penn [Jrizzle] to Allen Wheatley's home; he was the one who told Cameron to pick up his children; and he was the one who told Cameron at the Fire Station that he was not built for this.
"Throughout this case he was painted as the ring leader."
Graham said during their testimonies, both Penn and Cameron referred to Edwards as Mr. Edwards, while they referred to Baptiste as his call name, 'Jit'.
In relation to the two key witnesses, Penn and Cameron, Graham said the crown is no way stating that they are Saint Paul or all of a sudden a light have shined upon them and they are angels. "We have presented them for who they are."
He said they were involved in actions that cannot be condoned and the defence would want to raise questions as to why Cameron and Penn were not charged. However, he said the case before the court is not about importation of firearms, marijuana or ammunition, but about Harrigan's murder.
Graham stated that the two witnesses admitted that they were present at Wheatley's home when the offloading of the firearms and ammunition were being done. He said Penn even told the court that it was him and Edwards who were involved in the importation of the weapons.
"...Didntt try to distance himself...He did not try to paint himself as a rose."
He said lawyer Thompson would try to argue that there is no proof of participation on the part of his client Baptiste, but Graham said if a man agrees to a plot to kill another man and is seen driving around in a vehicle looking for the man, "is that not participation?".
He told the jurors that to ask them to think otherwise is to make a mockery of their commonsense.
Graham said when Edwards stated at the Fire Station that he will let Baptiste deal with Harrigan because he was running his mouth, Baptiste did not say, "not me, I am not into that"; however, he expressed willingness to deal with Harrigan.
The Prosecutor argued that Edwards had hoped that by going to Wheatley's home following the murder, it would have served as an alibi, but it didn't work out since Wheatley testified that he met both Baptiste and Edwards when he arrived home; hence, he could not have known when they arrived. This, he said, was after Wheatley left the murder scene after spending 15 minutes, dropped an employee home at Hodge's Creek and then drove home.
He said it did not work out well for Baptiste either since he told police that he was a family man and was at home all night on March 16, 2011; however, Wheatley testified to meeting Baptiste at his home in Edwards' vehicle, playing music in the garage.
Touching more on Ms. Gilbert's statement which was entered into evidence last Friday through Inspector Adrian Kartik, by request of lawyer Daniels, Graham said Edwards was pushing for Gilbert to destroy Cameron's phone. He said the jurors must ask themselves why Edwards was so interested in having the phone destroyed.
Graham stated that from the phone charts presented during the trial, it was clear that all the men were close-knit; hence, he argued what would have been the reason to just throw Edwards and Baptiste under the bus.
The Prosecutor said the fact that Cameron and Penn were not charged for gun or ammunition possession is not a matter of determining the guilt or innocence of Edwards and Baptiste. He said they are completely separate matters. He commented, "Guns don't kill, people do."
He said according to the evidence in court, Edwards was the last man to have the 45 caliber gun on March 15, 2011.
Graham said the defence wants the jurors to believe that every single person who came to the witness stand for the crown lied, but wants them to accept the words of Orvin 'Basha' Smith. He said Smith, who is a murder convict, said Cameron did not go to his house on March 15, 2011 to borrow a scale for Edwards to weigh the marijuana.
Graham said there are two men in the prison dock and they may ask if the crown's case is that they both held on to the gun and shot Harrigan. He said there is something called joint enterprise where both parties are liable for the acts of the other.
Meanwhile, lawyer Daniels in advancing his arguments on behalf of his client Edwards, said the crown's case is riddled with inconsistencies. He said Cameron testified that Edwards called him on March 15 from a 540 number for him to meet him [Edwards] at the Fire Station. However, he said if the jurors look at the chart presented in court by the crown, there was no call on March 15 to Cameron's phone.
He said initially, Cameron gave police Edwards' cell number as 5456337; however, two years later his memory suddenly increased where he has ascribed 5403805 to Edwards. He related that the officer during the trial prepared a new chart which now ascribed the 540 number to Edwards.
In relation to Gilbert's statement, Daniels said he purposely tendered it into evidence since Gilbert in the statement said she usually calls Edwards on the 5456337 number and he calls her from that number when she wants to get in contact with Cameron. He said Gilbert only knew that number for Edwards and she told police that when Edwards was in prison he called her from two cellular numbers, but did not mention anything about 5403805.
He also argued that no one witnessed when the officers were extracting the information from Cameron's phone.
In relation to the statements where Edwards said he will deal with Harrigan because he was running his mouth, Daniels said there is no evidence that Edwards said kill Harrigan, but rather it was Cameron's interpretation of the word deal.
He also argued that no evidence came forward as to why Harrigan was running his mouth. The lawyer then commented, "I am running my mouth now; I have a duty to fulfill, will Mr. Graham kill me." The jurors laughed at the humorous remarks by Daniels.
Pointing to other inconsistencies, Daniels said Cameron testified that Wheatley greeted him at his door and escorted him to the room where Edwards and the others were on March 15; however, Wheatley testified that he was not at home that day.
Daniels said there is no evidence that guns and ammunition were imported. He asked if the agent would not have examined the box and told the jurors to ask themselves if it is possible to bring in guns and ammunition into the Territory in that manner.
He said no one from DHL came to testify that Edwards brought in such a package. He said if the crown was sure they would have brought the manifesto.
The lawyer argued that the crown was quick to bring a baby stroller, beach chair and magazine, but no guns. He asked where are the guns which Penn said he took to his grandmother's yard to hide.
Daniels told the jury that Cameron testified that he gave police his phone, but Gilbert in her statement said she gave it to the police.
He said on the night of the murder, Cameron said he saw Edwards driving in his vehicle, but gave no description of what he was wearing and no registration number for the vehicle. The lawyer reminded the jurors that in his statement to police, Edwards had stated that there is another vehicle in the area which looks like his.
He said Cameron also admitted that the vehicle was tinted. He argued that identification is a serious hurdle.
Daniels also presented a chart to demonstrate to the jurors that the timelines in relation to the night of the murder and the evidence given by the crown witnesses do not add up. He ended by stating that there is no evidence that Edwards participated in Harrigan's murder.
Allen Baptiste [left] questioning the Judge's decision not to allow him to be considered for parole, and Yan Edwards, March 27, 2013.
Photo Credit: Melissa Edwards/BVI Platinum News
Meanwhile, Baptiste's lawyer Thompson during his closing address said there is no motive and no identification except for Cameron's testimony, who came to court with "crocodile tears".
He argued that on the night of the murder, someone jumped the fence at the clinic and came behind Harrigan and shot him; however, no police officer interviewed anyone in the area. He said there were no DNA, tyre tracks, or even clothing.
According to Thompson, one of the police officers who came to testify said the investigations into the murder are still ongoing, but yet they have two men in the dock. Thompson said this is two years after the murder.
He further argued that Detective Jason Harford after serving some 11 years in force came to court and could not say what is voice identification.
Thompson said his client has never had a conviction. "He sits here clean...nothing against him."
The lawyer also pointed to Gilbert's statement in relation to efforts by Edwards for her to destroy Cameron's phone. According to Thompson, on March 19 Edwards was taken into custody while Baptiste wasn't taken until April 4. He said Baptiste made no attempts to have Cameron's phone destroyed, rather he was walking around doing his business like an innocent man would.
Thompson said Graham during his hour and a half closing address was waxing lyrical about Edwards, but had little to say about Baptiste. He said for his client, it's nothing but guilty by association.
He argued that because Edwards and Baptiste were friends, it only made sense to the police, but according to the lawyer, that cannot be since the police's case must make sense.
He said not because they were friends means all of them must go down together and to this end, he urged the jurors to consider the case against each defendant separately.
The jurors on the case were commended by both the defence and prosecution for being attentive during the entire trial whereby they asked a number of questions.