Convicted cop killer could face death!

Convicted of murder, Mitchel Joseph is escorted by armed police back to a waiting vehicle, then on to prison

Sentencing for capital murder has always been a contentious issue, especially where the death penalty is sought.  Many will remember the case of the Cathedral killers where the Office of Director of Public Prosecutions proposed death as the only punishment for Kim John and Francis Phillip.  This case has been argued to the Privy Council and back.  The Privy Council ruled it should be re-tried.
DPP Victoria Charles-Clarke is once again calling for the death penalty in a murder case.  Scores of people, most noticeably members of the Royal St Lucia Police Force, gathered in the Criminal High Court on Thursday February 3 for the sentencing hearing of Mitchel Joseph alias ‘Bage’ of Ciceron, Castries.
Joseph was convicted on December 6, 2010 of murdering Police Constable 5 Lester Garvin Remy on April 27, 2008.  The trial lasted two weeks.  Upon conviction, Charles-Clarke indicated to the court the Crown would be seeking the death penalty.  Submissions in this regard were to be heard on January 20, 2011.  When the date arrived, following the DPP’s written submission in support of the death penalty on January 19, defense attorney Al Elliot was granted leave by the court to file a written response.  Justice Kenneth Benjamin adjourned the case to February 3.
On February 3, Charles-Clarke addressed the court on the grounds for her submission.  Her first argument was that under Section 86 (1) of St Lucia’s Criminal Code, it is considered capital murder to kill a member of the Royal St Lucia Police Force in the execution of his/her duties.  She reviewed the facts of the case to support her position.  Elliot counter argued his client was indicted for the offense of murder under Section 85 of the Criminal Code.  He told the court had the DPP intended to seek the death penalty in relation to Remy’s death then his client should have been charged under Section 86 which specifically deals with the offense and penalty of capital murder.
The DPP further argued given the heinous nature of the crime, the death penalty should be considered.  Remy suffered four gunshot wounds at close range. Pathologist Dr Stephen King told the court during the trial Remy had little chance of survival. Elliot disagreed with the DPP saying the incident was not premeditated based on evidence led by the prosecution.  It was a spontaneous apprehension which went awry.
Additionally, Charles-Clarke argued Joseph’s behaviour towards Remy was callous, wanton and unprovoked. She went further to say the defendant showed no remorse by statements he made to police officers and the deceased’s girlfriend.  Elliot countered saying, coming from the prosecution’s evidence on the manner in which the police executed their duties that day, the issues of provocation and self-defense arose unhindered.  Elliot refuted the DPP’s arguments saying the statements made expressed sorrow at the incident.  On this point, the DPP reminded the court Joseph was three feet away from Remy when he opened fire.
The defendant’s psychiatric report post-conviction did not give any indication of mental disorder or disease.  Charles-Clarke adjoined this to Joseph’s six previous convictions.  She went further to add, according to the report, Joseph had a troubled childhood which led him astray.  On the other hand, Elliot told the court Joseph had an absentee father.  There was no father figure in his life to guide him.
Elliot raised the issue that Joseph has a troubled son in Grade Six and the system should not perpetuate a cycle by removing a father from his child’s life.  The DPP countered saying there was no evidence to show Joseph played any major part in the child’s life.
The DPP opined there was no prospect of rehabilitation for the defendant while Elliot contested since his incarceration in 2008, the defendant has exhibited signs of rehabilitation.
Given the rising murder rate, the DPP believes a message must be sent to society as to the value of human life.  Elliot argued every human being had a right to life including those convicted of murder.
Justice Kenneth Benjamin reserved his sentencing judgment for Wednesday February 9.

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