DPP Withdraws Death Penalty for Confessed Murderer Rushane Barnett

The sentence hearing for 23-year-old Rushane Barnett took place in the Supreme Court on September 22. The Director of Public Prosecutions Paula Llewelyn withdrew a death penalty notice she had served to him after he pleaded guilty to five counts of murder committed in Cocoa Piece, Clarendon in June.

On the 28 of July, Rushane Barnett pleaded guilty to an indictment that charged him with five counts of murder, that of his cousin 31-year-old Kemesha Wright, and her children, 5-year-old Kimanda Smith, 12-year-old Sharalee Smith, five-year-old Rafaella Smith, and 23-month-old Kishawn Henry. Director of Public Prosecutions Paula Llewelyn noted that based on the report submitted by the forensic psychiatric officer Barnett showed no major signs of mental illness, lacks remorse, and empathy claimed to hear voices and was not suicidal.

The DPP also alluded to his June 22 caution statement where he said quote “it look like when she a walk a come out a di bed now and it seems like she si mi a pree har, suh she mek after something pon di dresser mi nuh si a wah, but mi a pree inna mi heavens seh it either a knife or a scissors mi rush har now cause mi did have a knife and mi start stab har up.”

The DPP stated this was clear evidence that Barnett is cognizant of his actions. She said investigations were conducted in the Coco Peace community, with residents who gave their account of Barnett premeditating the murders. She further added that this case has now become the worst example of murder noting that the gravity of the case outweighed the 2012 murder case involving Jeffrey Perry who was charged with three counts of murder and was served a death sentence. However, the DPP notes that the court has withdrawn the death penalty as an option for Barnett due to his guilty plea. She concludes that he must be sentenced to life imprisonment with hard labor and must serve 60 years before being eligible for parole.

However, Barnett’s Lawyer Tamika Harris, came to the defense of her client stating that the sentence should be reduced on the grounds of his guilty plea, His peaceful upbringing and that he is a first-time offender.

Reporter: Javine McLean

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