KINGSTON – The attorney for the St Ann couple, who, along with their three adult sons, were sentenced yesterday to a total of 110 years in prison for stoning, then chopping a mentally-ill man to death, has taken issue with the punishment.
“The sentences are manifestly excessive,” the family’s attorney Ernie Smith complained, minutes after they were handed down by Justice Carol Lawrence-Beswick in the Home Circuit Court in downtown Kingston.
“This case, unfortunately, has demonstrated that emotions, sometimes, rule the day. But I am happy that we do have a Court of Appeal,” Smith told The Gleaner.
Velma Dean, 65, doubled over and sobbed after she was sentenced to life in prison for her role in the gruesome death of Stanley McLean, 29, in Coltart Grove, St Ann in July 2007. Lawrence-Beswick ordered that she should serve 30 years before she becomes eligible for parole.
Her 69-year-old husband, Joseph was also given a life sentence and will have to serve 25 years before he is eligible for parole. Two of their children, Richard, 44, and Dwight, 38, were each sentenced to 20 years in prison. They will each have to serve 12 years before they are eligible for parole.
Their sibling, Jermaine, was sentenced to 15 years in prison and must serve 10 years before he can be paroled.
Lawrence-Beswick acknowledged receiving hundreds of petition from residents of two communities in St Ann and St Catherine who described the Deans as a respected family, but slammed Velma Dean and her husband for the roles they played in McLean’s death.
“You appear to have played the major role. You should have led your children the right way, but you have guided them down the wrong path,” she told Velma Dean.
“As the father, you had a duty to teach your children respect for life,” the judge told Joseph Dean, who displayed no emotion.
But Smith, who described the family as “decent, hard-working, Christian, country folks”, has vowed to appeal both the conviction and sentence.
“I am 100 per cent confident that the learned judges of our Court of Appeal will allow the appeal and set aside the convictions and sentences,” the attorney said.
The five were convicted last December following a trial in the Home Circuit Court.
Stanley McLean’s frail, elderly father, Audley, gave evidence that he watched as Velma Dean directed two of her sons to stone the house where his son went to hide after reportedly stealing a piece of electrical cord from the Dean’s home.
Audley McLean testified that he went inside the house and saw Velma Dean stand over his son and chopped him repeatedly with a machete. He said Joseph Dean then sent for a rope that was used to tie Stanley McLean’s feet.
According to the elderly man, his son was dragged out into the streets where Velma Dean again chopped him repeatedly.