Posted: Monday, December 21st, 2015. 9:18 p.m. CST
By Aaron Humes: Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin today told prisoner Glenford Baptist that he will continue to spend time in prison for the 2000 murder of Azrin White in Belize City. However, he no longer faces either death or life in prison.
The Chief Justice decided on a term of 25 years’ imprisonment to begin from the date of conviction in 2001, which takes into account time already served. It means Baptist will spend a further twelve years in prison, though he could be out before if paroled or released for continued good behaviour.
Baptist and his co-defendants, Gilroy Wade Jr., and Oscar Mendez was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death in November 2001 in the Supreme Court of then Justice Wilfred “Sedi” Elrington, after a jury had found them guilty of acting in a joint enterprise to kill Azrin White on the night of July 24, 2000.
Baptist, Wade and Mendez were looking for another man on Iguana Street Extension, when they took notice of White, who was sitting with his girlfriend and had just come home from work. After an exchange in which Baptist threatened White, he gave the gun he was holding to Mendez and said, “Do what you have to do,” meaning to shoot White, who died on the spot.
But the death sentence imposed by the Court was overturned because the State took too long to execute Baptist and because the sentence was automatically given and not contested, both of which violated his Constitutional rights.
The Chief Justice considered in-person testimony from two speakers on Baptist’s behalf, concentrating on his rehabilitation, and affidavits from two others.
While the Chief Justice took notice of Baptist’s rough upbringing and efforts at rehabilitation, he had to weigh it against the deliberate and premeditated nature of his decision to have White killed.
Ruling out a life sentence as it would have the same effect as a sentence of death, the Chief Justice reached his decision with the understanding that Baptist would continue to serve his time and continue his rehabilitation.
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