Son pleads guilty to Dr. Bennett Murder

A man who admitted he brutally murdered Trinidadian-born gynecologist Dr Trona Bennett will be sentenced on Friday, June 24. Bennett was found dead in her Trouya home around 12:30pm on Tuesday January 13, 2009.  An autopsy on the 60-year-old reveled the cause of death was asphyxia secondary to ligature strangulation. Dr Bennett had also suffered multiple blunt force injuries, mainly to her head. Andrew Keagan Richardson was charged with his mother’s murder on January 19.
On February 2, this year Richardson, represented by attorney Shawn Innocent, pleaded guilty to manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility. The Criminal Code of Saint Lucia says of diminished responsibility: Where a person kills or is a party to the killing of another person, he or she shall not be convicted of murder if he or she was suffering from such mental disorder (whether arising from a condition of arrested or retarded development of mind or any inherent causes or induced by disease or injury) as substantially impaired his or her mental responsibility for his or her acts in doing or being a party to the killing.
On a charge of murder, it shall be for the defense to prove that the person charged is by virtue of this section not liable to be convicted of murder.  A person who but for this section would be liable to be convicted of murder shall be liable to be convicted of manslaughter. The fact that one party to a killing is by virtue of this section not liable to be convicted of murder shall not affect the question whether the killing amounted to murder in the case of any other party to the killing.
The defense relied on the psychiatric reports of two doctors.  On June 6, the doctors came in to testify as to their findings. The court accepted the plea.  On June 9, Innocent made his submissions which in essence stated there are no facilities in St Lucia to house the defendant where he can receive appropriate treatment because the Wellness Center and Bordelais have severe limitations in meeting psychiatric care.  The defense proposed private treatment.
Justice Kenneth Benjamin, while acknowledging the facilities’ short-comings, noted that private treatment cannot be at the expense of the state.
The defense is pushing for rehabilitation and although Director of Public Prosecutions Victoria Charles-Clarke agrees, she says Richardson needs to be punished for his actions because though he is not fully culpable, he is responsible.  She proposes he should be sentenced for a fixed term and during that term he can receive treatment.

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