Less than a week before he was due to join the Barbados Defence Force (BDF) Shakeem Turton, 18, lay dying in his mother’s arms, reportedly the victim of an altercation with a neighbour.
And as he died, the former Frederick Smith Secondary School student gave her the “thumbs up”, his mother Natalie Harris said.
Turton died this morning at his Long Gap, Grazettes, St Michael home after he was allegedly struck on his temple with a stone thrown by a neighbour.
“My son died in my arms this morning around 9 a.m. after giving me the thumbs up. My son had an altercation with one of his young neighbours and he first struck my son on his foot with a stone. However, he later struck him in his temple with a stone and that was the fatal blow,” a distraught Harris told Barbados TODAY in an interview from her home in the presence of the young man’s father Mark Turton who was too distressed to talk.
“The incident occurred around 7 p.m. and we took him to FMH for medical attention. He was released but died at home around 9 p.m. He attended the Frederick Smith Secondary School and was employed at Blakeys at the time of his death. Shakeem was expected to enter the Defence Force on Saturday,” she added.
Meanwhile, the young man’s grandfather is questioning the seeming inability of Barbadian authorities to carry out the death penalty.
The man, who spoke with Barbados TODAY on condition that his name is withheld, was critical of Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite and also had some harsh words for Amnesty International and other abolitionist groups which he sees as meddling in the affairs of small states like Barbados.
“Why doesn’t Amnesty International and other international agencies try to influence the policies of China, for example, as it relates to capital punishment?” asked the deceased lad’s grandfather. “Why don’t they try to change the policy in the mighty USA? I do not understand.”
“Nobody goes to China and tries to tell the political directorate there to discontinue capital punishment. They cannot go to Singapore and Indonesia and tell them to abolish capital punishment. All of these countries have the death penalty.
“Earlier this year, Indonesia executed two Australian nationals…. They are coming to Third World countries and telling small countries what to do,” the noticeably frustrated grandfather said.
He said in the same way death penalty opponents claim that capital punishment does not stop murders, it can also be argued that imprisoning thieves does not stop theft. “ . . . so why is the judicial system sending them to prison? Open the prison then because nothing stops anything. It is a situation that baffles me.”
The grandfather said Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite seems to share the view that the execution of convicted murderers does not show a corresponding decline in the incidence of murders. Even though he acknowledged this view was informed by research, he contended: “It is a fallacious argument.”
“Ninety-nine per cent of Barbadians are in favour of capital punishment, yet our leaders refuse to impose it even though it remains on our statute books,” he added.