Judge: 'Don't smoke weed even if it's legal'

NATHAN HILL, 27, of Fyzabad, was warned by a High Court judge on Wednesday that even if marijuana is decriminalised, he must never smoke it or drink alcohol.

It was an argument over marijuana that led Hill, of Pepper Village, to shoot Kareem Joseph, 27, on October 18, 2010.

Hill, who was 18 at the time, was provoked repeatedly by the deceased, who weighed 216 pounds and stood much taller.

The incident happened at Richardson Trace, Pepper Village.

Hills pleaded guilty to manslaughter before Justice Lisa Ramsumair-Hinds in the San Fernando High Court. Provocation was the basis on which the State accepted his plea on the lesser count. He had previously been in jail for murder.

Presiding in a judge-alone trial, Ramsumair-Hinds considered as well a mitigation plea from attorneys Renuka Rambhajan and Jared Ali. Hills' father left the family when he was an infant, and his mother migrated to the UK. He was often shown photographs of his father by relatives, .

Because Hills’ father abandoned the family of five children and never provided financial support, Hills was sent to live with his maternal grandparents.

On October 18, 2010, Joseph had kept taunting Hills, who walked away but eventually whipped out the gun.

While he was in jail, Hills' grandparents died. He was not allowed to attend their funeral.

State attorney Stacy Lallo Chong prosecuted along with Josanne Forrester.

In sentencing Hills, Ramsumair-Hinds said his act was so spontaneous, in circumstances of such grave provocation, that Hills' youthfulness at the time would have lacked the criminal sophistication with which some criminals could be classified.

Ramsumair-Hinds said in considering the sentencing guidelines judges must follow, the court considered the level of provocation Hills was subjected to. A limit of 16 years would be justifiable in his case. From that, a third was deducted for for his guilty plea.

Hills has already spent nine years and some months in jail awaiting trial, which must be deducted as well, leaving a year and five months.

A judge can also afford a convicted person a further deduction for good character.

Ramsumair-Hinds opted not to pass sentence on Hills yet, but ordered him to report to a probation officer, live at the house he has partially inherited in Pepper Village, and to be indoors by 9 pm.

The judge also told him pending her sentence, he is not to use marijuana, "whether they decriminalise it or not. It is at the heart of what happened between you and the victim."

On Hills' behalf, a relative who attended the hearing was made to sign a $100,000 surety, to ensure he complies with the judge's orders.


"Judge: ‘Don’t smoke weed even if it’s legal’"

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