Raziel Jeffers, now 34, was sentenced on Monday to serve a total of 38 years for two murders committed in 2009 and 2010 in West Bay. In passing sentence, Justice Charles Quin said the fatal shootings were gang related.
Charged with the murder of Marcus Leon Ebanks on the night of July 8, 2009, Mr. Jeffers chose to be tried by judge alone. Justice Quin heard the matter and found him guilty in February 2012.
Mr. Ebanks, 20, was not the intended victim, but was mistaken for the person Mr. Jeffers went to the Bonaventure Road yard to kill. Multiple shots were fired and four other people were injured, one so seriously that he is now paraplegic. The intended target ran from the scene and was not injured.
Mr. Jeffers’ second victim, Damion Ming, was shot on the night of March 25, 2010, in a yard in Birch Tree Hill where his boat was being worked on. Mr. Jeffers chose trial by jury; he was convicted in April 2014.
In both instances, he received the sentence of life imprisonment, which has since been replaced by a required specific sentence. The Conditional Release Law, which came into force in February 2016, mandates a term of 30 years for murder unless there are exceptional circumstances that could raise or lower that term. The sentence imposed is what the convicted person must serve before he may apply for release on license.
Justice Quin was asked to consider imposing a “whole life order.” In the U.K., this means that a crime was so serious that the guilty person will never be released from prison. After adjourning to consider the matter, the judge declined to do so. He said he came to the view that the principles of retribution, deterrence and rehabilitation could be satisfied with a specific sentence.
There may be cases in the future that do warrant a whole life order, he said, but in his view this was not such a case.
In the case of Mr. Ebanks, aggravating factors that took the murder sentence beyond 30 years included planning and premeditation. The judge found that Mr. Jeffers had arranged to get a gun, had involved another, unidentified person to go with him, had arranged for someone to tell him the location of his intended victim, and masks had been worn when Mr. Jeffers and his companion went to the scene.
These factors raised the 30-year sentence to 34 years.
In the murder of Mr. Ming, the judge found that Mr. Jeffers had obtained a gun and stored it at a neighbor’s house before the shooting. Again, he had someone tell him of his victim’s location. He shot Mr. Ming in the area of his heart and then shot him in the back as he was trying to crawl away.
These factors raised the 34 years to 38 years.
Justice Quin looked at Mr. Jeffers’ previous convictions and found that most of them were not relevant. He said there were no extenuating circumstances.
Mr. Jeffers attended his sentencing, but defense attorney Amelia Fosuhene made it clear that he was opposed to the hearing. She explained that he maintained he was not guilty and he currently has proceedings before the Privy Council – the highest court after the Cayman Islands Court of Appeal.