by Curlan Campbell, NOW Grenada
- 12-member jury on Tuesday delivered a guilty verdict of Capital Murder
- Joseph will be sentenced using old sentencing guidelines
- Criminal Code section 230 provides death sentence cannot be handed down on juvenile at date of offence
High Court Judge Justice Paula Gilford is to receive two psychiatric and social inquiry reports on 19-year-old Twely Joseph ahead of his sentencing on 31 January 2020, in the death of 8-year-old Ariel Bolah of Frequente, St George.
A 12-member jury on Tuesday, 3 December 2019, delivered their guilty verdict of Capital Murder on the accused after deliberating for quite some time.
Bolah’s gruesome death of sent shockwaves throughout the country when her body was discovered in the bushes near her home on 10 November 2017, less than 24 hours after she was last seen returning from school. She was a student of the Blessed Sacrament Catholic School in Grand Anse.
Evidence stemming from the high court hearing gave chilling accounts that led to her untimely death. A report by the pathologist brought forward by Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Christopher Nelson, indicates that her death was slow and painful.
Joseph, the convicted teenager, was considered a minor at the time of the discovery of Bolah’s body.
DPP Nelson described this trial as the worst he has witnessed in a long time. “This case in my experience has been the worst I have seen. It is a little child, 8 years, who was not just brutally raped but killed in the most… — it’s hard to describe because it was extremely violent and brutal. She would have suffered, and suffered immensely before she died,” he said.
He said the verdict of guilty on the charge of Capital Murder was consistent with the evidence presented in this case. “I would have been very surprised if the verdict had been otherwise. This is an extremely sad case, a very tragic case. Yes, a young man’s life is in limbo and a little girl came to a very tragic, painful, end. I think it was clear in the court through the trial that the mother and stepfather are yet to overcome this tragic loss.”
Following the verdict, Justice Gilford requested from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) that a psychiatric and social inquiry report be submitted by 10 January 2020, thereafter submissions are expected to be made by the prosecution and the defence before the scheduled date for sentencing.
“It is standard procedure in a conviction for murder that the court will order a social inquiry report and as well as a psychiatric evaluation or report of the convicted person that is always relevant in the sentencing process. In this case, more than ever I think, a full and proper evaluation of this young man is required. The nature of this crime speaks of something out of a horror movie so I think very much so in this case, we need that type of evaluation to get an understanding of what was motivating this youngster in order to properly fashion a sentence,” Nelson said.
Since murder is not yet under the new sentencing guidelines, Joseph will be sentenced using the old sentencing guidelines.
Nelson said, “Murder is not yet under the new sentencing guidelines we have for sexual offence, stealing and drugs. The murder guidelines have not yet been formulated and promulgated by the court but several cases will guide the court in sentencing in a case like this, and there are lots of authorities including from our jurisdiction as well as regional and international. There is a concern, he was a juvenile at the time of committing the offence, therefore under section 230 of the Criminal Code although he is convicted of capital murder for which the sentence is death, the law provides that the death sentence cannot be handed down on someone who is a juvenile at the date of the offence. Consequently, it is in the discretion of the judge what sentence is to be administered, so the maximum for practical purposes, is life.”
The DPP said that consideration will be given on the rape indictment in this case in due course.
Attorney at law, George Prime, who represented Joseph, stated that it is too early to say whether an appeal will be filed, but this will be considered at a later date. “Well I can’t say we are appealing right away, those are matters which we must discuss with the now-convicted man. I see very little room for appeal but in murder cases, there are things that we don’t see so the issue of appeal is to be determined at an appropriate time.”
Prime stated his client has maintained his innocence in the murder of Ariel Bolah and has only admitted to the rape aspect of the case. “He maintains his innocence from day one because what he said had to do with the issue of the case factors. This is an allegation of his saying that he had got involved in certain events, but he denied committing the murder. As you know capital murder has certain ingredients in it and that ingredient has to be in pursuant of the sexual relations. He did admit that he had sexual intercourse with that young girl, but denies committing the murder. The version of the defence is that he was not the perpetrator of this event; the version of the prosecution is that you cannot separate the two and therefore that is what the jury indeed took and came to a verdict of guilty.”
The mother of the deceased did not comment on the guilty verdict.