‘We did it for no reason’
DWIGHT Henry, the 33-year-old farmer who is serving life for the 2016 double murder of American missionaries Randy Hentzel and Harold Nichols, on Tuesday in a seeming attack of conscience, claimed that he and his co-accused Andre Thomas, who is now on trial for the slayings, had no motive for killing the men.
Blurting out the admission in the absence of the widows of the men, who, supported by close friends, have been observing the trial over the past two weeks, Henry said, “Milord, we did it for no reason. We were so foolish. We made a mistake, Milord, and that’s why I wish to tell the court the truth about it, Milord, and say I really sorry to the court and the family members.”
The harried answer came after members of the jury, asked whether they had any questions for Henry who had been grilled by the defence and re-examined by the Crown, pressed him to say whether the motive for the attack and murder was in order to rob or for some other reason.
Nichols, 53, and Hentzel, 49, his colleague missionary for the Pennsylvania-based Teams for Medical Missions, went missing on Saturday, April 30, 2016 after leaving their Tower Isle, St Mary, homes on motorcycles to visit a site where they would be doing some charity work the following week. When they did not return, a search party later that day discovered Hentzel’s body lying face down, his green helmet still over his head, with his arms bound “tightly” behind his back by a piece of cloth torn from the green T-shirt in which he was clad. Nichols’ body was found some distance away on the Sunday afternoon.
A consultant forensic pathologist contracted by the national security ministry disclosed that Hentzel died instantly from a single bullet to the head fired at close range while Nichols, who was still alive after being shot once in the back, died from one of six chop wounds to his head delivered with enough force to chop “the branch of a big tree”.
In the meantime, Henry, earlier on Tuesday while being re-examined by the Crown, was asked to say which version of his account of the incident was true because of a variance in his statement to the police prior to the trial and his testimony before the trial.
A senior prosecutor in re-examining Henry following the completion of his cross-examination by the attorney for Thomas, Leroy Equiano, said “based on your answers to my learned friend, before coming to court you had told the police that you shot the man who was lying on the ground as well as the man who your cousin ran down. But here in court, when you were answering my questions, you said that your cousin shot the man who was running and you shot the man who was lying down on the ground. Which of those two things is the truth or the correct one, Mr Henry?”
Said Henry: “Andre Thomas did stand up with the gun, he shoot him and he runned (sic) off; while he was runned (sic) off, I run back of him. We run down the man together. The two of us run him down while we run we saw the man in a pool of water, then Andre Thomas shot him in his head then the two of us come back up the top where the next man was and I shoot the next man in his head back. Just one shot.”
Asked to explain the reason why he gave the police a different version from what he told the court Henry said, “Because I wish to tell the truth to the court; I was sad about what happened, what me and Andre Thomas did, so I tell my lawyer that I want to sign a plea bargain and wish to tell the whole truth to the court.”
Pressing further, the prosecutor said, “Before you came to court, you told the police before that you shot the man who was lying on the ground first, but here in court when you were answering my questions, you said that Andre Thomas shot the man who was running first, so can you please tell us which of the two things is the truth?”
Following an objection by Equiano, Henry replied, “The truth is, Andre Thomas first, the man he was holding, he fired a shot after that man and that man was running and the two of us was (sic) running him down and while running him down the man fell into a pool of water and then Andre Thomas chopped him in his head and then we came back up to where the other man lie down with his two hands tied behind him, and I shot him in his head back. That’s the truth, the whole truth.”
Last Tuesday, in being led through his evidence by the senior prosecutor, Henry, who will be eligible for parole after serving 28 years, said on the Saturday morning in question he and Thomas were “up in the bush, chopping jelly [coconuts]” when they saw the two men approaching on motorbikes.
He claimed that Thomas stopped the men at gunpoint and told them to get off the bikes. Henry said he told one of the men to lie down on the ground and tied him up with a piece of cloth torn from the shirt he wore. He said the next man ran off and was fired on by Thomas. He said he joined Thomas in chasing that man, leaving the other man tied up.
“While wi running him down, the man fall in a pool of water; Andre Thomas shoot him then he chop him in his head with a machete…then we came back up at the top where we tie up the next man, then I shoot the next man in his head back, me do it, miss, then we go our separate ways,” Henry said. According to the inmate, Thomas was the one who gave him the gun so he could shoot the victim.
The matter, which is being heard by Supreme Court judge Justice Leighton Pusey with a jury, resumes today at 10:00 am.