Chad Anglin, convicted in 2014 for the murder of Swiss banker Frederic Bise, was ordered on Friday to serve 34 years imprisonment before he can apply for conditional release.
Justice Alexander Henderson imposed the term after considering whether there were any exceptional aggravating or extenuating features to raise or lower the minimum 30-year sentence set by Cayman’s legislators.
That minimum came into effect in February 2016. The Conditional Release Law says that anyone convicted of murder before then must come before a trial judge to receive a time-specific term rather than the previous indeterminate sentence of imprisonment for the rest of his or her life.
In reaching his conclusion for Anglin, who is now 37, Justice Henderson found that no extenuating circumstances had been revealed. He found three aggravating circumstances and explained them in the context of the facts of the case.
The judge noted that the victim was homosexual. Early in the morning of Feb. 8, 2008, he went to a jerk chicken stand in West Bay, where he met Anglin. The two men and a third man, Anglin’s cousin, went to Mr. Bise’s residence.
The next morning, Mr. Bise’s body was found in the trunk of his car, which was on fire.
“He had suffered multiple blows with a blunt object to his head and face and had been strangled or suffered severe blows to the neck. Expert evidence suggested that Mr. Bise died before being placed in the car. The evidence also showed that another man had recently had sex with him.”
That summary by Justice Henderson went on to note that Anglin was convicted on a mixture of circumstantial and direct evidence. His DNA was found at the scene, a friend gave evidence of an incriminating statement by him, his alibi was contradicted by CCTV from the jerk stand.
The judge agreed that Mr. Bise’s computer, phone and credit card had been stolen from him, but he said the evidence did not permit a conclusion that theft was planned before the murder – it could well have been an “opportunistic act committed spontaneously after the killing,” he said.
Therefore, he did not find that this had been a murder for gain. Further, there was evidence that Anglin’s cousin had retained the stolen articles; nothing implicating Anglin in the theft was exceptional. The cousin was later found guilty and sentenced to 20 years for being an accessory to the murder after the fact.
Justice Henderson did regard as exceptional the fact that Mr. Bise’s body was set on fire and found in a partially burned condition. The attempt at destruction was an aggravating feature unusual enough to be exceptional, he said.
A further aggravating factor was Anglin’s status on bail at the time of the killing. Regulations to the Conditional Release Law state that the court must treat that fact as an aggravating circumstance. The regulations also require the court to consider any previous convictions.
In 2001, Anglin was convicted of five counts of indecent assault. “Indecent assault is a form of violence committed for a sexual purpose,” Justice Henderson said. “The murder of Mr. Bise was committed within the context of a homosexual encounter. These previous convictions … are of sufficient relevance and proximity that I take them into account as an aggravating circumstance.”
The judge pointed out that Anglin was sentenced 10 months after the murder for two counts of assault causing actual bodily harm; he had pleaded guilty and received a term of three years. In 2011, he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five years for indecent assault and wounding.
The judge questioned whether he should take into consideration these later offenses or only those that occurred before the murder. In his view, he could take them all into account. “That conclusion accords more closely with the overall intent of the legislation, which is to arrive at a minimum term that reflects appropriately the three legislative objectives of retribution, deterrence and rehabilitation,” Justice Henderson said.
He considered Anglin’s prior criminal history to be a substantial aggravating factor that justified a considerable increase in the minimum term and he arrived at 34 years.
The judge also dealt with two preliminary issues. First, Anglin was not present at his sentencing hearing. Prison officers said he refused to leave his cell; he also refused to participate via video link. In a handwritten letter dated May 25, 2017, Anglin had said he would not participate in proceedings until he was given a lawyer who “will follow instruction.”
The judge said he was satisfied that on all occasions, Anglin had been given sufficient notice of hearing dates. His refusal to attend was willful and the judge was satisfied that Anglin’s consent had been given to having proceedings conducted in his absence.
Second, Anglin did not have an attorney. The judge noted that Anglin had rejected two. He had not been denied his right to legal counsel; he had refused to take advantage of it.
The judge had appointed attorney Jonathon Hughes as “friend of the court” to make submissions on behalf of the defendant. It was Mr. Hughes, in fact, who successfully argued against the “murder for gain” aspect of the case.