Melanese Eversley’s life was worth “just over 100 Barbados dollars” to killer Trevor Linus Baptiste and for that he should get nothing less than a starting sentence of 20 years in prison, the Crown’s chief prosecutor told the High Court on Friday.
“A certain amount of money was taken from her, it was just under $120 and that was the value that was put on her life when she was attacked in broad daylight while she was walking on the street,” said Director of Public Prosecution Donna Babb-Agard QC as she put forward sentencing submissions in the case of the Cutting Road, Haggatt Hall, St Michael resident.
Baptiste alias Coco pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to manslaughter in the September 3, 2015 death of Eversley, 61, a general worker who was walking to work on Jordan Tenantry Road, St George when she met her death.
The Fire Service received an anonymous call about a fire at Constant, St George. While firefighters were on their way they spotted another fire and on approach they saw what appeared to be the lifeless body of a woman lying on her back in a grassy area. The fire, which had not yet reached her body, was extinguished.
A post mortem ruled that the cause of death was due to cardiac injury from a stab wound to Eversley’s chest.
“With all due respect to the court and to the family of the deceased I must say that I am sorry for the pain that I have caused the family of the deceased and also the law of this country and I would like the court to be as lenient as possibly on me please,” Baptiste said in a brief address during the court’s virtual sitting of his trial.
But Queen’s Counsel Babb-Agard stated that the killer’s action on that day was “opportunistic and he took advantage . . . just to get money. She died a violent death because she also died fighting for her life”.
In putting forward the aggravating features of the case before Justice Randall Worrell in Supreme Court No. 2, the chief prosecutor added that the life of a vulnerable older person had been lost which left a family greatly affected. A knife, an “intrinsically” dangerous weapon, she said, was used to commit the offence.
She pointed to Baptiste’s criminal record of which he has 16 convictions, including ten for burglary, two for loitering with intent to commit theft, assault and escaping lawful custody.
In Baptiste’s favour were that he pleaded guilty, expressed remorse and the facts showed no premeditation or planning in the commission of the crime, the prosecutor submitted.
“It seems to be a spontaneous attack in that he went to rob her,” Babb-Agard said about the killer who is in his 40s and has spent 2,224 days – just over six years – on remand at HMP Dodds.
To support the Crown’s submission for a starting 20 year sentence in prison, the DPP urged the court to take into account Baptiste’s actions after the offence had been committed. She pointed out that he tried to destroy the evidence, namely the deceased’s handbag by fire, by using a lighter that he had in his possession and possibly the deceased’s body. “The aggravating features far outweigh the mitigating factors,” she added.
Defence attorney Angella Mitchell-Gittens put forward many of the same mitigating and aggravating features and pointed out that he was a high risk of reoffending.
Making reference to guideline cases she submitted that a starting sentence of between 10 to 15 years could be imposed on Baptiste for his crime.
But the DPP said that penalty was “too low . . . 20 years is prison is an appropriate starting point”.
Baptiste’s sentencing phase will continue before Justice Worrell on Tuesday.