Kirkland Henry and Larry Prinston Ricketts had their sentencing adjourned until next week Friday for the murder of Estella Scott-Roberts on the night of Oct. 10, 2008.
Chief Justice Anthony Smellie made that decision on Wednesday after hearing that Mr. Henry may have mental health issues. Mr. Ricketts was present in the dock, but not Mr. Henry. A prison guard advised that Mr. Henry had refused to appear in court or via video link.
An attorney who spoke with Mr. Henry by phone earlier this week said he thought his case was finished and he had been found not guilty.
A psychologist giving evidence via the video link indicated that Mr. Henry had isolated himself for some time and had no contact with anyone outside the high-risk unit. Provisional diagnoses had been made by psychiatrists visiting the prison, but an examination for mental fitness would require a trip to the hospital.
The chief justice was hearing sentencing submissions because he had conducted the men’s trial without a jury at their request and he found them guilty in February 2010. At the time, the only sentence for murder was life imprisonment.
Since the Conditional Release Law came into effect in 2016, anyone receiving a life sentence must be given a specific number of years to serve before they can apply for release. For murder the sentence must be at least 30 years, although a judge may adjust that if there are aggravating or extenuating circumstances.
Mrs. Scott-Roberts was abducted, robbed and raped before her murder; her car was then set on fire with her body in it. She had been last seen walking to her car after a “girls night out” celebration of her 33rd birthday.
She was well known in the community for work in establishing the Crisis Centre as a safe place for abused women and helping to formulate the Cayman Islands National Plan for Gender Equality. A week after her murder, the annual Silent Witness March attracted 2,000 participants.
At the time of their crimes, Mr. Henry was 27 and Mr. Ricketts was 25.
Chief Justice Smellie said he would order a more comprehensive report on Mr. Henry’s condition by the end of next week and he adjourned the matter until Feb. 9. “We’ll see where we go from there,” he said.