A HIGH COURT judge has warned that youth will not always attract a lighter sentence as she imposed a three-year suspended sentence on an Arima man who pleaded guilty to a 2011 shooting incident which left one man dead and another with a bullet in his arm.
Although Justice Lisa Ramsumair-Hinds ordered Keishon Browne, 29, to be imposed the suspended sentence, he will be supervised by a probation officer for those three years.
If he fails to do as ordered, he will serve the three years, 11 months and 18 days which were left on his 25-year sentence after he received the full discounts for his guilty pleas, the 12 years he has spent in prison and other mitigating factors in his favour.
She said she was of the view that no good purpose would be served by him remaining incarcerated.
“You have paid your debt. You will become a successful, positive, contributing member of society,” she told Browne.
Earlier this year, Browne pleaded guilty to murder and shooting with intent. Because he was 17 at the time of the killing, he benefited from provisions of the Children’s Act which removed the death penalty as the default sentence for murder and left him at the mercy of the courts for sentencing.
Ramsumair-Hinds explained her method of sentencing for the counts of murder and shooting with intent, and said it was not his young age at the time of the incident that earned him leniency but his contrition, taking responsibility for the role he played, and his attempts at rehabilitation by participating in several programmes in prison.
She made it clear, however, that the court had not lost sight of the nature and seriousness of why Browne was before the court.
She said when he went with his accomplices on May 12, 2011, and did not miss his mark.
“He shot who he went there to shoot, that person survived.” That person was Leon Gumbs.
However, Deon O’Brien was killed when Browne and two others shot at three friends who were playing cards under a street light at John Buddy Williams Street, Phase 6, La Horquetta, Arima.
O'Brien, Gumbs and the third friend Keon Romain ran when their assailants began shooting. O'Brien died close to where they were playing cards, Romain survived and was able to identify their attackers, while Gumbs was shot in the left arm.
“He (Browne) went with others and you find yourself paying a heavy price for the actions of others,” the judge said of the attack. Browne was not the gunman who pulled the trigger that killed O’Brien but is legally responsible for the one who died, the judge explained.
Three days after the incident, Browne admitted to police he met someone he knew at the basketball court who wanted him to shoot Gumbs, and he agreed. Browne met the man and another, was given a gun, and they went to where the friends were playing cards, running after Gumbs and firing one shot at him. One of his accomplices ran behind O’Brien, shooting him several times.
Browne said he threw his clothes in the river and returned the gun.
The judge said the attack on the friends was premeditated and involved malice, but said of Browne, the boy then was not the man she was sentencing now.
She also referred to victim impact statements of O’Brien’s relatives, including his daughter who was three years old when he was killed and admitted to them, “nothing I do today will ever compensate for your loss.”
Browne was represented by deputy public defender Raphael Morgan and public defender Axia Edwards while the State was represented by Stacy Laloo-Chung and Norma Peters who offered no evidence on an attempted murder charge Browne also faced so was discharged for that.