Brother gets four years for machete attack

A man who chopped his brother 11 times with a machete and then called 911 to report it was sentenced on Wednesday to four years’ imprisonment for wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

Easton Rudolph Russell, 50, was initially charged with the attempted murder of Carlos Renton “Sammy” Russell, 52, at Carlos’s yard in Bodden Town on the morning of Nov. 4, 2014.

CCTV showed Easton chopping Carlos with 11 full blows to his head and body. In passing sentence, Justice Malcolm Swift commented, “It’s a miracle he survived with his head still attached to his body.”

In considering the aggravating and mitigating factors, the judge told Easton, “I accept you were driven to distraction by your brother’s behavior.”

That behavior included alleged threats by Carlos to Easton and members of Easton’s family.

Senior Crown counsel Tanya Lobban presented the background to the charge. She said 911 received a call around 7:30 a.m. on Nov. 4 from Easton. “I think I just killed my brother,” he reported.

Police found Easton holding his machete, which appeared to be smeared with blood. They ordered him to drop it and any other weapons. He complied and did not resist arrest. Meanwhile, neighbors were assisting Carlos, who was covered in blood. Emergency Medical Services took him to hospital.

The brothers had been close, Ms. Lobban said, but since 2012 there had been a feud about treatment meted out to their ailing father, who has since died. The brothers’ relationship became more strained and Easton started reporting threats made by Carlos.

Justice Swift referred to reports made to police by Easton about Carlos’s threats to kill him and about threats to Easton’s children; he pointed out that Easton had then refused to make further statements about the incidents.

Defense attorney Laurence Aiolfi said when Easton went to police to complain, officers told him not to waste their resources, that it was his and his brother’s problem. That factor added to Easton’s frustration, the attorney said.

Justice Swift picked out another complaint from the file documents – the alleged use of a firearm or threat of a firearm. He noted it had been listed as a civil dispute.

While there was some degree of provocation, the judge said, it did not immediately precede Easton’s attack. “I cannot overlook the fact that you went to his home,” Justice Swift told the defendant.

He said he believed that the trigger for the attack occurred when, on Nov. 4, Easton’s son gave him a message the teenager had received on his phone from “Uncle Sammy,” which read: “Tell your daddy any time he ready, I’m ready.”

Mr. Aiolfi said Easton did not go directly to confront Carlos, but called him to tell him not to involve his children. He told Carlos they needed to speak about the situation: “The response he gets is more threats against him and his family,” Mr. Aiolfi said.

Easton then drove to his brother’s house, didn’t see him and drove away, but then received a call telling him to come back.

The agreed narrative was that when he returned he saw Carlos with a machete. Easton drove his vehicle at Carlos and knocked him down. He hit a fence and got out of his car with a machete in his hand.

Justice Swift said it was his opinion that although Carlos had a machete, he was not aggressive with it; he was trying to defend himself.

The judge said, in addition to deep, semi-circular injuries to the back of the neck, Carlos had a laceration to his scalp almost 8 inches long. Bone fragments from his skull were driven into his brain. There was long-term damage to his shoulder and hand. He has difficulty walking. The vision in his left eye is deteriorating: this was especially serious because Carlos is already blind in his right eye, the judge noted.

Carlos underwent surgery after the incident. He needs further surgery, but hasn’t had it because he can’t afford it, the judge said.

Mr. Aiolfi said Easton was willing to pay compensation and could do so if he received a suspended sentence.

The judge said this sustained attack and the seriousness of the injuries required a custodial sentence.

The maximum for wounding with intent is life imprisonment, but sentences have ranged from probation to 12 years.

Justice Swift said he would normally take the nine- to 12-year range as his starting point. Taking nine years as his starting point, he raised that to 10 years because of the seriousness of the injuries and the surgery and expense Carlos still faces. Because of mitigating circumstances, he reduced 10 years to six years, then gave one-third credit for Easton’s guilty plea. The result was a prison sentence of four years. “I think this is a merciful sentence,” Justice Swift said.

He added that he would not order compensation, but the victim could pursue the matter through a civil suit if he wished.