Chief justice notes lack of remorse and previous convictions
Raziel Jeffers, 31, was sentenced Friday to 20 years’ imprisonment after a jury found him guilty of manslaughter on Thursday.
Jeffers had been charged with the murder of Marcos Mauricio Duran in West Bay on March 11, 2010.
The Crown’s case was that Mr. Duran, who sold illegal lottery numbers, was the victim of a planned armed robbery that went wrong.
In passing sentence, Chief Justice Anthony Smellie said the 12-person jury must have accepted that Jeffers was the mastermind who would know that the robbery would involve at least one firearm and would have placed Mr. Duran at risk of harm. To convict Jeffers of murder, jurors would have had to be convinced that the death was a probable consequence of the robbery plan.
In Cayman, a person who commits manslaughter is liable to imprisonment for life. Sentencing precedents and guidelines quoted on Friday by Director of Public Prosecutions Cheryll Richards and defense counsel Brian O’Neill ranged from 13 years to 22 years.
Jeffers is currently serving two life sentences for murder. He was convicted in February 2012, after a judge-alone trial for the murder of Marcus Leon Ebanks in July 2009. He was convicted by a jury in April this year for the murder of Damion Ming on March 25, 2010. Both deaths were by gunshot.
Mr. O’Neill had asked the chief justice to consider that Mr. Duran’s death was not related to any gang warfare and there was no intention to hurt him, only to frighten him. He also pointed to Jeffers’s “expression of genuine regret.”
The chief justice said Jeffers had shown not even a flicker of remorse, apart from that comment as reported by his former girlfriend. She said Jeffers had told her, “The poor numbers man is dead.” This was as she assisted his escape from near the scene minutes after the shooting.
If Jeffers had any feeling of true contrition he could have admitted his guilt, accepted responsibility and asked for a reduced sentence on that basis, the judge indicated. Jeffers’ remark so soon after the shooting could have been due “merely to his realization of the enormity of the consequences of his action and the likely consequence to follow,” he said.
The chief justice said he also felt compelled to consider Jeffers’s previous convictions, noting he could not recall ever having come across a more damning set of antecedents.
“In fact, so troubled is the defendant’s history that one is led to wonder whether his attitude towards the present offense and his lack of apparent contrition may be the manifestation of a rather fatalistic acceptance of the sentence that must be imposed now,” he said.
The judge said he had to pass a sentence that would be a deterrent. It had to reflect the overall criminality of the offense and be a true measure of Jeffers’s culpability. The chief justice concluded that the correct sentence was 20 years. He agreed with Mr. O’Neill’s submission that Jeffers should get credit for the 529 days he spent in custody before his first murder conviction.