Lawyer says time for retrial of murder convict should be shortened

Former death row prisoner Dwayne Omar Severin remains on death row at Dodds Prison despite a Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) ruling six years ago that Barbados’ mandatory death penalty was unconstitutional.

And because of that fact, Severin’s attorney Angella Mitchell-Gittens said he should get a substantial discount on his reconviction.

Severin, formerly of Crane, St Philip, had originally been sentenced to be hanged after being found guilty of the November 30, 2009 murder of Virgil Barton.

Speaking before Justice Randall Worrell of the No. 2 Supreme Court on Thursday, Mitchell-Gittens said, “He remains on death row to this day. Even though our Supreme Court has indicated that these men must be retried and that they are no longer death row inmates, the prison, sir, has attempted to keep these men locked up in a situation where they are being referred to as death row row inmates.”

“In my view there must be a significant deduction for Mr Severin remaining on death row for six years, particularly for the period that a court ruled that he should not be on death row. He is still on death row today when he is sentenced and he goes back to prison to be on death row. I suspect he will remain there pending sentencing. . . even though the court has ruled that this is a man who, like everyone else, is awaiting sentencing.

“The death penalty is off the table. This is certainly a cruel and inhuman punishment, inexplicably linked to being on death row [and] must be awarded [with] given these conditions, a significant discount,” the lawyer added.

Referring to the mitigating and aggravating aspects of her client’s crime, Mitchell-Gittens said the assault took place outside Barton’s home, where he was staying with others, and that the deceased’s family were present and will do so [have] was traumatized by the events that happened that day.

The fact that a firearm had been used in the killing and that the crime had been committed in a public place, even though it was the deceased’s apartment, had also made matters worse.

“The evidence is that the attackers came down the main street and were in the public square where any citizen could have been hurt by what was happening,” the attorney said.

Mitchell-Gittens acknowledged that the attack appeared “not entirely unprovoked,” according to the state.

“It looks like something happened earlier in the day at the St. Philip Carnival and it would have been a disaster [off] of that. I urge the court to consider that there appears to have been no significant planning or premeditation. It seems something happened and shortly after that you see these men coming down the street and shooting,” the lawyer said.

The re-sentencing phase of Severin’s case will resume on June 6 when lead prosecutor Krystal Delaney will present the prosecution’s opinions on the sentencing.

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