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Lawyers plead for 3 confessed killers

...want jail time instead of death sentence

By Nikita Braxton-Benjamin

THE lawyers representing men who pleaded guilty to murder made submissions last Friday before a High Court judge in a bid to convince him against imposing the death sentence on their clients.

The only sentence that could be considered by the court for a murder charge was the death sentence, until the 2011 Privy Council ruling that the mandatory sentence of death imposed against convicted killer Nimrod Miguel be quashed, and the question of sentence be remitted to the court.

In October, murder accused Alexander Don Juan Nicholas, Gregory Tan and Oren Lewis pleaded guilty under the murder felony rule allowing the judge to decide their sentence.

The attorneys said, while the death sentence still remains an option, they are asking that the three spend a maximum of 20 more years in jail.

The men have already spent nine years and three months behind bars.

The State is asking for 15 to 30-year prison sentences for the men.

Nicholas, Tan, and Lewis, all of Brazil Village, near Arima, were charged that on a day unknown between August 26 and September 2, 2002 at Mayaro, they murdered Jerry Boodoo.

In October, after undergoing psychiatric tests, the three pleaded guilty to the charge, which was accepted by Justice Andre Mon Desir.

They were expected to be sentenced on Friday but the judge instead heard legal submissions surrounding the number of years they should remain in jail and pleas of mitigation.

Defence attorney Lennox Sanguinette said Nicholas, 36, was an intelligent man having attained seven subjects after school.

He said the accused was from a farming family and grew up with his parents in a close-knit home which included his three sisters and one brother.

Sanguinette said, according to the probation officer's report, Nicholas's past teachers said he was always one who was expected to succeed.

But the report also stated that, "Nicholas felt he needed money quickly and he always thought he could outsmart everyone."

He said the death penalty was "clearly unwarranted" given the circumstances in the case.

Attorney Richard Valere said Tan, 35, ex-pressed remorse and apologies to Boodoo's family and asked the court to allow him to be a father to his daughter.

Valere told the judge that in considering a sentence to pass on Tan, the death sentence was discretionary and raised for the "rare of the rarest of occasions".

Attorney Larry Williams, who represented Lewis, 31, told the court that the death penalty was "not an appropriate sentence" in this case.

He called for a sentence of between ten and 20 years but spoke of the one-third discount for a guilty plea and for Mon Desir to also take into consideration the length of time the men had already spent behind bars.

It was the State's case as outlined by prosecutor Sabrina Dougdeen, that August 27, 2002 was the last time Boodoo, 29, of La Horquetta, was seen alive.

Dougdeen said four months before the killing, Nicholas and Tan were playing poker, when a man told Nicholas that he wanted car parts for a Nissan Sunny car. Nicholas told him he could find some for him.

Around 10 p.m. on August 27, Nicholas, Tan, Lewis and another person entered Boodoo's blue "PH" B11 Sunny, when he pulled on to the Brazil, Arima taxi stand.

The accused told the driver they were dropping at different locations along the route.

On the way, Tan and Lewis pulled Boodoo into the back seat where they beat him while Nicholas drove the car.

"The deceased begged the men, telling them he had a little daughter to see about and to take the car and go," Dougdeen said.

But Lewis said Boodoo had seen too much and he and Tan continued to beat and cuff Boodoo.

"They took out the deceased's belt and were choking him with it," Dougdeen said.

Boodoo was heard gasping for breath and then "a crack" was heard.

Lewis said: "He dead."

Nicholas said: "Allyuh kill the man...boy, that is lifetime in jail," and he steupsed.

Boodoo was placed in the trunk of the car and the men went to a gas station where they bought soft drinks and sweet bread with the $63 they got from their victim.

They then went to Manzanilla and threw Boodoo's body into the Mitan River.

The vehicle was scrapped and parts sold.

On September 1, 2002, Boodoo's body was found floating in mangrove in the Mitan River. His body was in such an advanced state of decomposition that the pathologist was unable to determine the cause of death.

The pathologist stated that he could have possibly died from strangulation, an arm lock, a severe blow to the neck, suffocation or drowning.

Police later arrested the three men.

Tan said they all thought the man was alive when they threw him in the river.

The matters are expected to continue on December 14.

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