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Man gets eight months for killing friend

...Already served time in jail

By Nikita Braxton-Benjamin nikita.braxton@trinidadexpress.com

MICHAEL BABOOLAL will spend the next eight months in prison after pleading guilty to stabbing his friend to death in 2005.

Justice Geoffrey Henderson yesterday passed a sentence of nine years and three months.

However, since he already served eight years and seven months behind bars, Baboolal will remain incarcerated for eight more months.

Baboolal, 29, of Gran Couva, was charged with the murder of Lester Baptiste but recently pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter.

On May 2, 2005, Baboolal, who was then 21 years old, and Baptiste, 34, had an altercation during a bazaar at Gran Couva.

Defence attorney Rekha Ramjit said both men were drunk and liming when they slapped one another. Ramjit said Baptiste left and returned with a cutlass. Baboolal had a knife.

State attorney Mauriceia Joseph said that Baboolal had held down Baptiste for his (Baboolal’s) brother to beat Baptiste with the cutlass.

Joseph said Baboolal dealt Baptiste “17 stabs to the right back, 11 over his left back, two to his left front chest and (also) his pelvis, arm, left arm, chest and buttocks”.

While Baptiste was lying on the ground,  he was stabbed and Baboolal returned and kicked him twice. The State asked that Baboolal, who was treated for injuries to his knee and leg following the incident, serve a period of ten to 18 years behind bars. The defence requested a six to ten-year term.

Ramjit said her client, who expressed a desire to get involved in agriculture, had no previous convictions, was remorseful and had received a favourable report from the prison.

 The probation officer’s report also described Baboolal, who played cricket, as being well-regarded in the community and recommended that he be considered to be placed on a bond.

Ramjit asked for leniency for Baboolal, who, she said, had spent most of his productive years in jail.

Henderson said the Court of Appeal had stated that when a person takes another’s life, there should be a custodial sentence.

 He began with a 14-year sentence but after giving the mandatory one-third discount for a guilty plea, Baboolal was sentenced to nine years and three months. Henderson said, in passing sentence, he had to take into consideration that the accused had already served eight years and seven months in jail. Baboolal will therefore be released from prison in the next eight months.

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