Trevino Tennyson Bodden was sentenced on Friday to serve a minimum of 28 years imprisonment for the 2006 murder of two brothers in East End: Brenard Scott, 36 known as “Chicken Bone”; and Roy Renold Pearson, 48.
Grand Court Justice Alexander Henderson emphasized that 28 years was the minimum Bodden must serve before he can apply for conditional release. The judge pointed out that nothing in the law says whether Bodden should be released “on that date, at a later date, or not at all.”
Bodden was found guilty by a jury in November 2007, when the only sentence for murder was imprisonment for life. The Conditional Release Law was passed in 2014 and came into effect in February 2016. It requires that a definite term be imposed – 30 years unless there are exceptional aggravating or extenuating circumstances.
Bodden was 21 when the fatal shootings took place. At the sentencing hearing in April this year, one issue argued on his behalf was his good conduct in prison and his efforts to rehabilitate himself.
Justice Henderson said the law was unambiguous and clear – evidence of the prisoner’s behavior after the original sentence was not admissible.
However, he noted later, the Conditional Release Board will, when the time comes, assess Bodden’s conduct in prison along with such factors as whether he can be viewed as rehabilitated and whether he presents a danger to the public.
The judge reminded everyone that in instructing jurors in the trial, he had left with them the possibility of a manslaughter verdict on both counts of murder. The jury had rejected the possibility.
He referred to the facts of the case. On the evening of Nov. 1, 2006, Bodden was at Pirates Cove Bar in East End with friends, and Mr. Scott was also there. Around 11 p.m., Bodden, Mr. Scott and others left the bar and walked to a nearby location in front of Mr. Pearson’s house.
“Mr. Bodden and Mr. Scott became embroiled in a fight. There is no reliable evidence about how or why it began. What is clear is that Mr. Scott prevailed. He threw the defendant to the ground while holding onto his shoulder-length hair and punching him repeatedly. Mr. Scott was also using his knee to inflict blows to Mr. Bodden’s face ….
“Several members of the local community, including some older men and one woman, witnessed the fight and saw Mr. Bodden beaten badly. He was humiliated. I am satisfied that in light of his age, the circumstances of the fight, and, especially, the witnesses to it, Mr. Bodden was provoked,” Justice Henderson said.
Bodden left the area and came back running within five or six minutes, “still angry and with a loaded gun in his hand.” He asked, “Who the bad man is?” And when Mr. Scott emerged from a nearby residence, Bodden fired several shots, killing him.
Mr. Pearson shouted, “What you do my brother?” and ran towards Bodden, who fired several more shots and killed him also.
In his summary, the judge noted that Bodden had made an amateurish and unsuccessful attempt to disguise his identity when he returned with the gun. At his trial, Bodden had denied shooting the two men, saying he had gone home and gone to sleep.
“The jury did not believe him,” Justice Henderson observed. In rejecting verdicts of manslaughter, “they likely concluded that the interval between the end of the fight and Mr. Bodden’s return with a firearm was sufficiently long that he could reasonably have been expected to regain his self-control.”
The judge accepted that Bodden had been provoked.
The killing of Mr. Pearson, a mere bystander, was obviously an aggravating circumstance of the most serious kind, the judge continued. “Double or multiple homicides are thankfully rare in the Cayman Islands; I am satisfied that this aggravating circumstance is exceptional in nature and justifies an uplift in the minimum term.”
He was permitted to take into account any information about Bodden’s background that could have been presented at the time the defendant was sentenced in 2007.
The judge noted that the only other person in Cayman to have been sentenced to life for a double murder had been released after serving 29 years, having applied to the governor under previously existing legislation.
In Bodden’s case, “Taking the provocation and age and background of the offender into account and weighing them against the fact that two people were killed, I fix the minimum term at 28 years,” Justice Henderson concluded.
The 367 days Bodden spent on remand are to be taken into account.
Lead counsel Mark Mulholland and attorney Jonathon Hughes represented Bodden.