The Atwell brothers have taken responsibility for the stabbing death for Travis Austin, on February 4, 2016.
Today, before Justice Randall Worrell, Antonio Renaldo Devere and Arlong Elroy Atwell, both of Block 3J Culvert Terrace, Haynesville, St James, said they were not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter.
Neighbours discovered Austin’s lifeless body in a track at Central Close in the same community around 11 p.m. He was 24 at the time of his death and formally of Prior Park, St James. Based on the evidence complied by lawmen, the deceased seemed to be a small-time drug dealer, Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Alliston Seale revealed.
That Thursday night, four years ago, the two along with a third brother visited Austin to engage in a drug transaction. A fracas erupted among the men about drugs reportedly owned by Austin and which had been removed from the area by police.
At the beginning of the physical encounter the third brother ran away. The stabbing occurred after and resulted in Austin’s death.
When investigations into the matter started the Atwell brothers were developed as suspects but when questioned by police they denied any involvement in Austin’s murder.
Antonio, who was 19 years old at the time, said, “I ain’t know about that. I was inside my mother’s bedroom playing Clash of the Clans with my brother Arlong.”
After he was read his rights Antonio disclosed that he knew the deceased for 11 years but did not know his full name nor his address.
“I know Travis from liming behind my pailing. He [is] there all the time and that is the only place in Hayesville he hangs out . . . Travis is known to sell Fanta, wrappers, cigarettes and drugs in that area. I sometimes buy Fanta or wrappers from Travis,” he said.
Antonio gave the investigators additional information but the cops later deduced that he was not telling the truth and questioned him again before he agreed to give a statement in writing.
He explained that he and his brothers went behind the pailing because the third brother went to purchase marijuana.
“Travis asked me and my brothers what happened when police took the marijuana and the dope, meaning cocaine, from behind the pailing and if we get charged. I tell he no that the police wanted to know who it belong to and just so Travis cuffed me in my face and pull a scissors from out he pocket and he tried to stab me in my back with it. My brother Arlong Atwell tackle he and that is when I turn ‘round and see [the other brother] running going through the alley,” Antonio revealed.
In the statement he said Travis started to stab at his brother Arlong with the scissors and they fell.
“My brother Arlong holler out ‘stop!’ Arlong was the first person to get back up and start to kick he about. Travis had the scissors in he hand and was trying to get back up but Arlong hold he hand and he fall down. He get juck in he neck with it and all of we fall down in the plants,” Antonio said adding that the fight continued.
“When I get back up I saw Travis over my brother with the scissors. I ran and twist he hand and tek way the scissors and then juck he about three times but he wouldn’t stop fighting. Travis get up . . . and my brother fight wid him. I ain’t sure if he get juck anymore times but after that we ran and went through the alley,” he added.
Arlong, who was 22 years old, meanwhile also made several comments to police but later said, “I was not telling the truth. Me and my brother Antonio was involved in the matter.”
He then proceeded to give a similar account of what took place in a written statement. He said when the fight began he looked over in the direction where his other sibling was at the time but “he was gone”.
“I felt like running but I could not leave my brother Antone.”
He also told police that when he tried to put a stop to the fight Travis “ kicked” him. He subsequently felt something “went through” his hand but he did not see what it was. “ I then grabbed at what was in he hand and I get it way . . . I then stabbed he. I pull he up from off the ground.”
The “scuffle” he said continued with Travis cuffing him behind his head.
“Travis grabbed for the thing which was in my hand and I push he and he fall back down. I put my hand around he neck feel for a pulse. I didn’t feel anything, he was not moving me and my brother Antone ran,” said Arlong. When he was further questioned by police Arlong said he was “defending Antone when Travis cuff he”.
A post mortem done on Travis’ body found several injuries. The pathologist ruled that death was a result of multiple stab wounds.
The two men, who are represented by attorney-at-law Safiya Moore, will appear before Justice Worrell tomorrow via Zoom when they will be sentenced.