PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) — A 44-year-old man who stabbed his estranged wife to death because she infected him with the deadly HIV/AIDS virus has been sentenced to 25 years imprisonment.
Earlier this month, a 12-member jury deliberated for 35 minutes before reaching a guilty verdict against Anthony Atwell, who had previously been charged with murder.
The prosecution told the court that Atwell killed Gail August because she rejected his pleas for reconciliation, but the jury accepted his defence that he was provoked into killing her after she infected him with HIV and then left him for another man.
Atwell admitted that on October 27, 2003 he purchased two knives and begged his estranged wife at her workplace to "come back home with me and spend (your) last days together".
He said, however, that August rejected him, saying she wanted no part of him.
"After what she did to me I just take out the knife and stab her," he said, telling the court "she played a "nasty game, giving me AIDS and leaving me by myself to die".
At his sentencing on Thursday, the court was told that Atwell lied when he said at his sentencing hearing last week that he was only being administered antibiotics in custody, and should be freed so he could get proper care.
But the State challenged the claim and brought proof that Atwell was in good health and given the best care available from the Medical Research Foundation (MRF) headed by AIDS researcher, Professor Courtenay Bartholomew.
"The courts will not be a creature of skewed compassion. I have to accept the jury (verdict) that you acted under provocation (but) women must be allowed to empower themselves, and leaving a domestic violence situation is their right," Justice Anthony Carmona said.
"In recent times we have seen young women cut down in the prime of their lives by lovers and husbands. There is an appalling problem regarding violence towards women in society," he added.
As he was being led out of the San Fernando High Court, south of here, Atwell cursed the judge saying "you putting me to rot in jail".
Justice Carmona said Atwell, who was diagnosed with HIV in 2008, had attempted to hoodwink the court and his lawyer, in order to get a lesser sentence.
The judge said Atwell's HIV status did not automatically entitle him to less jail time, and "the prisoner is being treated comprehensively by the very best and is presently in good health".